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by Jim Gordon

This article is written to those of us who live in the USA. Here in the United States it is a time in history when things seem to get pretty weird. Currently we are in a presidential election year and that can cause a lot of chaos in itself. Then we have a lot of other important issues going on that just makes things a little crazy.

Things can certainly get strange. It seems politics (and money) can make people do things and say things they normally would not do and say.

For me, politics is not an interest. I feel it is a divider and causes disagreements and many times can cause the loss of friendships. It usually does not bring people together other than those who are in favor of the same politician or party.

One important thing we need to remember is that no one person and no one political party will be the answer to all our problems. We all have our opinions and views and we are all entitled to have them and express them. The problem is when we cannot accept opinions and views that are different from ours.

Thinking back to the tragedy of 9/11, and I would never want something like that to happen again but right after that happened, I can remember the unity that was felt here in the USA. People seemed to forget their differences and they united under a common cause. If we could only unite together as fellow human beings and not put so much importance on our different political views, what a difference there would be in our country.

There are certainly many issues going on and many issues that need to be dealt with and changed. I believe that not much will happen until we can unite in the fact that we are all human beings who want the best for our country, our families and ourselves. Though we will never all agree, we need to strive to work together in a way that will cause change where needed and bring people together to work for the good of all.

Fighting over which politician or which political party is best and will do the best job is not going to bring the unity we need to make the necessary changes. No politician is going to fight for the people without us, the people holding them accountable. They will fight for what is best for them and what is best for their party, but we need to work together to force them to do what is best for us, the people of the United States of America.

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by Jim Gordon

Recently, my fellow blogger Mike Edwards made a statement that I think is so true. He said it is not enough to say I am not a racist. It is easy to say I am not a racist, but saying and doing sometimes are two different things. I have never thought of myself as a racist. I felt I always believed all people were equal and loved by God.

Yet there were times I would find myself thinking about different situations and then realize I am coming from a racist perspective. When I catch myself doing that I get upset with myself and realize I am wrong.

I believe God created us all equally, but we all are not equal in regard to our opportunities or the way we were raised. I certainly do not believe any particular group is dumb or second class citizens, but due to some of our upbringing and the areas we lived or the financial situation we were in, some do not have the opportunity or chances that others have.

What I feel is needed more now than ever is not just a listening ear but a speaking mouth. I think a lot of people over the years listened….for a while, but never put any action into what they heard or what they felt should be done.

It is not enough to just say I am not a racist. It is time for action, for listening, learning, speaking out and standing up for equality for all.

I think the black community wants us white people to listen, to take a stand, to speak out and to promote and demand change. I like this quote by the late John Lewis: “We need someone who will stand up and speak up and speak out for the people who need help, for people who are being discriminated against. And it doesn’t matter whether they are black or white, Latino, Asian or Native American, whether they are straight or gay, Muslim, Christian, or Jews”.

I always enjoyed my job with the fire department and felt it was more like all jobs should be, equally fair to all people. It was not perfect, but at least everyone was tested with the same test, everyone was given the same pay, everyone was given the same tests for advancement. Women were paid the same as men, blacks were paid the same as whites and each were respected in the community. All citizens were treated the same and offered the same help when in a time of trouble.

I can only imagine how a young black man would feel being pulled over by the police. Or how a mom and dad of a black child would worry about their child when they go out. I cannot explain why things we have been hearing happen. It does not make sense to me. I know several police officers and they are not even close to being like some of the police we have heard about recently. It is sad and terrible that there are some bad people in every walk of life which unfortunately includes the police.

All I know is that everyone, black or white, male or female, gay or straight, christian, muslim, atheist etc. should be treated respectfully and given the same rights as anyone else. Each should have the same opportunities to enjoy life, love their families, pay their bills and be treated kindly no matter who they are.

I do not know all the answers but I do hope this time will be the time things start to change for the good. Maybe this time people will listen and stand up to take action and make this country a better place for all people.

It is time to stop just listening, time to stop just saying I am not a racist and begin to do what is necessary to make the changes that will make a difference. I certainly pray that is the case.

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by Jordan Hathcock

To be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely – to step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep on stepping because the something that sustains you no empire can give you and no empire can take away.—Dr. Cornel West

How are we (I.e., American “Christians”) supposed to *act* in our current climate where the pandemic reigns, systemic racism runs rapid and the economic state is at its worse sense the Great Depression. 2020 has been a mix of 1918, 1930s, and 1960s all wrapped up in one “apocalyptic” year and it seems to be no end in sight. The unveiling of the principalities and powers (corrupt institutions) are now in the forefront for all citizens to witness. The term “viewer discretion advise” has never been more relevant.

We are hearing from both world views (conservative and liberal) advice and warnings in what the “right” strategy is when it comes to the current world crises. The polarization has come to a boiling point and you better take cover! Masks vs. no masks, black lives matter vs. all lives matter, all coming to a dualistic head, about to explode. The American political landscape has been experiencing a tug of war (no pun attended) regarding ideals which in-turn is hindering an actual plan of action. Thus, we have the never-ending cycle of us vs. them that only brings violent unrest.

This is not a denial of the actual current damaged systemic realities (white supremacy, racism, pandemic health crisis, police brutality, etc.) that this country is experiencing. I understand that some are living in denial of these issues (and it is not getting us anywhere). Alas, what I am trying to manifest is Christ-participants response to all of this? It cannot only be a conservative view of just letting the old ways be preserved no matter how many lives are harmed and oppressed along the way. It also cannot be a regulated liberal view, espousing a non-stop shame culture in where people are ostracized and scapegoated, no matter what the price. Is this American binary platform, in which we have two sides to choose from, all there is? The issues with our two-party system, plurality voting rules, winner take all voting, gerrymandering, (to name a few) is not helping when it comes to a more just (love in action) social system.

When leave social restorative justice (it cannot be an eye for eye kind of justice here, peeps) in the hands of the elite, what we get is an Empire. If we are living in the 21st century United States, we are living in an Empire (bold statement I know but stay with me). There are a few interpretations of Empire (hey, is post modernity baby haha), but I find this one fitting when it comes to defining Empire with our current state in Murica:

Conglomerates of power that are aimed at controlling all aspects of our lives, from macropolitics to our innermost desires.― Joerg Rieger, Christ and Empire

What does Empire involve? All types of “power over” institutions from education, to government and religion. When our systems become an economy of exchange where the mighty dollar reigns, the result is imprisonment. From a Christ-participant perspective, what we have seen since the fourth century is Civil Religion: the Christendom of Empire, reigning down with an oligarchy thumb. Since that time, the supposedly Jesus Community has been entangled with the State. This might be the deadliest mixture when it comes to corrupt power. Christians have become the Roman occupiers―plundering and destroying all that gets in their way―instead of Jesus followers being eaten by lions and burned at the stake. When we became more about geo-political dominance and less about serving “the least of these”, the distinction between the Jesus-Way and Empire are unrecognizable. Palestinian Christian, author, and Lutheran pastor Mitri Raheb puts it this way:

Empires create their own theologies to justify their occupation. [Just as the early American empires chose to overlook its mistreatment of the Native tribes who already lived here and then justified a slave holder form of Christianity in much of the Americas. —RR] Such oppression generates a number of important questions among the occupied: “Where are you, God?” and “Why doesn’t God interfere to rescue [God’s] people?” When, under various regimes, diverse identities emerge in different parts of Palestine, the question arises, “Who is my neighbor?” And finally, “How can liberation be achieved?” is a constant question.

I think this is what we have in our current state of affairs. Are we (I.e., White American Christians) as claimed participants in the Jesus way, going to see ourselves as the Roman occupiers? Are we finally go to repent (change our way of thinking) and really set out to be a people who wash feet, serve the poor, and set the captives free? That is it, really. Breaking free to liberate others. This is what privilege is all about. We cannot let the ways of Empire cloud our minds with this “America first” attitude. Its movements that change things, not rusted-out institutions. It is power under not power over that brings about resurrection (Jesus on the cross, anyone?).  So, regardless if you see masks as not needed, or black lives as a neo-Marxist communist organization, what do you do for the least of these? For your enemies?

I think it’s time that we truly see that “our citizenship is in heaven- Philippians 3:20 “ which includes “every nation, tribe, people and language-Revelation 7:9”. It’s time to let go of our egos and be humbled. We need to listen and educate ourselves through and by the voices of the marginalized in order to bring about the liberation and healing that sets all of God’s creation free…

Only the oppressed can receive liberating visions in wretched places. Only those thinking emerges in the context of the struggle against injustice can see God’s freedom breaking into unfree conditions and thus granting power to the powerless to fight here and now for the freedom they know to be theirs in Jesus’ cross and resurrection.― James H. Cone, God of the Oppressed

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by Jim Gordon

War, terrorism, politics, COVID-19 pandemic, how could we possibly be at peace in our world today with all this turmoil?

How can we be at peace with people with all the different thoughts and ideas, the different denominations, interpretations, beliefs, different religions and ways of life?

The dictionary says of peace: harmony in personal relations; freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. We certain have a lot of strain in personal relations and much unrest and worry in thoughts and emotions about events going on in our world today.

Romans 12:18 reads, if possible, so far as it depends on you be at peace with all men. To me this means we are to live in harmony with others, not allowing any oppressive thoughts or emotions to take control of us. In other words, we live in love. That does not mean total agreement, but love and acceptance of who the other person was created to be.

Jesus told us we were given the peace of God by saying “peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. It is a peace that we, in our finite human minds cannot make sense of or understand.

Jesus also said “in me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This world will provide plenty of worrisome events, plenty of turmoil and plenty of things to worry about each day. Yet Jesus said by putting our trust and hope in God we can overcome the worry and fear we have in the world.

The Kingdom of God is not like the kingdoms of this world. Our world is a temporary home, yet the Kingdom of God is now. It is within us. The Spirit of Christ is within us. Our spiritual home right now is in the Kingdom of God. We do not recognize all the effects because we are to accustomed to the ways of the world. Jesus said the ways of the world have been overcome by the Kingdom of God.

The more we can focus on the Spirit and the Kingdom within, the more we can enjoy the peace Jesus provides. The peace of Christ works within our spirit, much different than the peace we think about in our world system.

Remember that we are responsible for ourselves in the way we live and trust God. We are not responsible to live as others do or think we should. We are not responsible to tell others how they should live. We are to allow the Spirit to work in our lives and follow the Spirit on the path we are following. Our responsibility is to love God and love everyone we come in contact with, accept them for who they are and pray that the Holy Spirit will work in all our lives. Living in this manner would accomplish much more in showing the love of Christ and allow us to live in peace amidst all the turmoil in our lives.

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by Jim Gordon

We all can agree that the events going on in our world today are shocking. Those of us alive today have never known anything quite like this.

Just as in about anything that is said or happens in our world, I find there is a wide array of opinions on this going from one extreme to the other. Most believe what our medical experts are saying and are trying to do what they recommend. Yet, spend any time on social media and you will see there are many who think this is a government conspiracy, a highly inflated and overdone death count, media hype or a complete hoax.

Of course, we always have people who say this is a judgment from God on this group or that group, or due to this sin or that sin. I personally do not believe God has sent this upon us for any reason. We live in a natural world where things happen. I do believe God will see us through this time and give us wisdom to use what we learn and experience to make improvements for all human beings.

Personally, I do believe this is all real. I suspect some of the numbers could be exaggerated due to not knowing the exact cause of illness or death, but I do not believe this is done intentionally. Unfortunately, I believe the government and medical world was caught off-guard and unprepared for such an event and now they are doing whatever they can think of to help.

Though we have never had a situation exactly like this in the past 100 years, I do see some similarities in the situation based on the following from the CDC website with information about the flu pandemic of 1918:

‘Mortality was high in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old, and 65 years and older. The high mortality in healthy people, including those in the 20-40 year age group, was a unique feature of this pandemic. While the 1918 H1N1 virus has been synthesized and evaluated, the properties that made it so devastating are not well understood. With no vaccine to protect against influenza infection and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections that can be associated with influenza infections, control efforts worldwide were limited to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings, which were applied unevenly’.  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-pandemic-h1n1.html

For my wife and me, it is not as much of a problem for us staying home. We are both retired and have regular income. We can order groceries, food and needed supplies online and have them brought direct to our home. Yet, I certainly do understand those who are younger who may be laid off work with no income. Their jobs could be in danger, their business may never recover, they may have young kids to take care of. Even with unemployment, many are having trouble getting registered and many still waiting on checks to arrive.

Then there are those who are still working out in the public. First responders, medical staff, essential employees. They all have to wonder in the back of their mind if they are being exposed or bringing this disease home to their families.

I believe the government is trying to do things to help, but we all wonder if skipped mortgage payments, rent, credit card payments and such are going to cause more problems later on due to taking advantage of these things that seem to help for now.

I can certainly understand the fears and frustrations of people in each of these situations.

So often when disasters and events like this happen, it brings people together to help each other and work together to improve the situation. It is good to see so many new innovations and new ways to provide PPE, disinfecting PPE and new testing processes for the virus that are happening. It is good to see how people can work together to come up with new ideas to help in this time of great need.

I do believe we will get through this and things will begin to get back to some type of normal. I do understand we all see things differently, but pray that we can look past our differences and work together to support one another and help bring this time of sickness and hardship to a close.

No matter how you view this crisis our world is going through, remember we are in this together. Do your best to remain calm, to be kind and helpful to your fellow human being. Out of respect for one another, follow the social distancing and general health precautions when you are out in public. We will get through this and better times will return.

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by Jim Gordon

I have talked a lot about the church system, pastors and leaving the institutional church. I do not want anyone to think I am against the organized church. Even though we are divided with denominations and various interpretations of the bible, we should be united in love for God and for one another.

My parents took me to church when I was so young I did not know what church was, and I was faithful just about every Sunday for the next 58 years.

Many good things happen in church, many good friends are made in church, a lot of good information and knowledge about God, love, grace and hope are found in church.

For my wife and I, we grew very dissatisfied with the method of church that is so common today. We would rush to get ready, rush to get there on time, shake a few hands, sit and listen to a few people do all the talking then rush out to get on with our day. There were times when we participated with the various meetings and opportunities the church offered and there were times when we only went to the planned meetings on Sunday and Wednesday.

I want to point out that if you enjoy gathering together on Saturday or Sunday with other believers in an organized service, there is nothing wrong with doing so.

While I personally do not believe church attendance is a must to be a follower of Christ, many people do believe so. That certainly does not make us enemies. Whether in the organized church or not we are all people who love God and are brothers and sisters in Christ. God loves us all just the same.

For me, a few things I look at differently about church is that I do not believe true church is a building, a place, or an organization. I believe Church is people and it does not matter if you attend a building or not. If you want to meet in a building that is OK, just realize you do not have to. We are the temple of God.

Pastors are not the mouthpiece or middle men/women of God. They are fellow brothers/sisters in Christ who are to support, encourage and build up others in their walk with God. The Holy Spirit lives within us and the Spirit is our teacher and guide.

Sunday is not the sabbath. That was old covenant. Many people call Sunday the Lord’s day and I agree, but I also say Monday is the Lord’s day just as every day is the Lord’s day. This (today) is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

I no longer believe in tithing. That also is old covenant. That is not to say we are not to give but we give as we determine in our heart. We give to help others, not to support a religious system. If you regularly attend an organized church then you should give to help support it. There are salaries to be paid, mortgages and utilities to be paid and various expenses to keep the organization running. Yet giving to those causes is not tithing and not required.

So basically, what it boils down to is that each of us in our own way want to love and worship God and we want others to know of God’s love. How we go about it, if we attend a building for a religious service with others or if we do not, makes no difference. We can go out daily knowing the Spirit of God lives within us, teaches us, guides us and shares the love of God with others. We do not need to look at each other and think the other is wrong for the way they choose to follow God. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ and we are called to assemble together in the commonality of showing the love of God to all we meet.

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by Jim Gordon

To take this title literally would be something that would make me mad and upset. In the midst of a pandemic some think it is spiritual to show they are not afraid and can ignore all that is being said because God will take care of them.  They tend to think it shows a lack of faith on their part to take the precautions many are calling for. Many say trust God and throw caution to the wind.

I do believe we will make it through this time and I do believe we can trust God to provide for us. Yet I do believe we have minds and common sense to do what we can, without panic to protect ourselves and to protect others.

The one statement that so many pastors and church organizations use to promote church attendance is the one mentioned above, forsake not the assembling of ourselves together. I have always been told that means we need to come together every Sunday at a designated place to sit through an organized meeting led by the pastor. If we fail to do so we are certainly not being the ‘good’ Christian we are supposed to be.

Yet to me, and especially in this time we are going through, this phrase speaks more to assembling together by helping one another, encouraging one another, checking on one another.  The dictionary describes assembling as bringing together or gather into one place. That does not necessarily mean a physical place but a place of agreement, a place of commonality for a similar purpose.

Now is the time to physically keep your distance, but it is also time to assemble together in the sense of fulfilling a common goal of caring for your fellow human being. It is time to put aside differences and join together for the purpose of caring for one another and supporting each other through these difficult times.

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by Jim Gordon

As christian people, we have always heard that we are to love our enemies. Do good to those who use you. Turn the other cheek.

The dictionary describes an enemy as a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against; or an adversary or opponent.

So, an enemy can go from someone who rubs you the wrong way all the way to someone who wants to literally kill you. How is it possible that we can love our enemies when we think about the more extreme sense of the word?

In all honesty, we cannot. In our own human ways, we are incapable of loving people like this. We have a hard-enough time loving people who are different from us and not really an enemy as described above.

In some cases, we can make up our mind to look past someone who treats us bad. We can make sure to treat them in a kind way, help them when they have a problem, support them any way we can. We can walk away rather than argue. We can smile and be pleasant rather than give them a dirty look or flip them off. Sometimes it is within our human power to make a choice to treat others as we would like to be treated. There are other times when, in our own strength, it is just impossible to be loving.

Obviously, we look to our role model, Jesus, and see how he lived. He truly loved people. It did matter if they agreed with him, if they were despised by the general population, if they hated him, or if they put him to death. He loved mankind. He came with the purpose to show the love of God to a fallen world.

Without the love of God living within us, and with us staying out-of-the-way and allowing that love to come through, we will not be able to truly love our enemies. But, the power of the Spirit living within us is more than able to do what we cannot do on our own.

We have to come to an end of ourselves, just as in the case of grace. We are totally unable to keep the commandments and live a perfect life that God commands. The ten commandments are a tutor that leads us to the fact that we are incapable of fulfilling this requirement.

Thankfully the New Covenant took effect when Jesus died and rose again. The free gift of God’s grace cleansed us and renewed our fellowship with God. Now, because of Him, we can not only love those who treat us good, but also our enemies. We are now one with God and it is his Spirit that loves through us, just as Jesus did when he was in his earthly body.

Obviously, loving our enemies is something we are unable to do apart from the love and strength of the Spirit that lives within us. Yet with God, all things are possible.

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by Jim Gordon

Discrimination is something that has gone on for a long time…too long. It is not just racial, which is bad enough. It is racial, sexual, gender, religious, political, national and probably other ways I am forgetting.

Any type of discrimination is wrong. It is not treating people as they should be treated. It causes division and causes people to be separated into class descriptions, and this should not be. There should be no second class citizens in our world.

I believe God created human beings and we are all created to be treated equally. We all should have the same rights and privileges, we should all have the same equality to be who we are, to be happy and live a full and complete life.

Discrimination happens to white and black, LGBTQ and straight, Christian, Atheist, Muslim and Jew, American and any other country. I see it as people saying those who are different from us are a lower class of people or not deserving of the same treatment and same rights as us. This is completely wrong and completely not Christ-like.

We are all human beings and no matter what label we wear, what color we are, where we live, what religion we are or what sexual identity we claim, we are all to be equally treated and loved.

God loves us all and as followers of Christ we are to love God and love one another. There is nothing in the way Jesus lived that says we are only to accept those who think the same as us. Jesus loved all people no matter who they were, where they were from or what they believed.

Worst off, even if we see someone as an enemy we are still told to love our enemies. There is no excuse for anyone to treat another person or group of people with discrimination. Everyone should be loved and even though we may not agree, we all should be accepted and treated with respect and kindness.

I certainly have seen more discrimination and hateful acts recently coming from those who claim to follow Christ. They seem to think it is OK to treat others with malice and contempt. For some reason they think this will make people see their mistake and come to a Christian way of thinking. Personally, I do not believe that is the way to draw others to the love of God. I also do not believe we need to have an ulterior motive of treating people in a way that we think will show them they need to come to our way of thinking. We are all free to believe as we choose and should not have any particular view shoved down our throat.

In a perfect world, we could all live our lives as we see is right for us and everyone would accept one another in those differences. Unfortunately, in our world that is never going to happen. Yet that does not mean we stop striving for a better world or for more acceptance and understanding among all people.

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by Jim Gordon

Philippians 2:3-7 – Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men.

In today’s world, it seems everyone has the I am number one attitude. We are all interested in what is best for us, what makes us happy, how to be more comfortable and satisfied in our lives. Seems like we will do anything we can to get ahead in life, to get all the comforts and things to make it easier for us.

The verses above state that as followers of Christ, we should be doing just the opposite. Our thoughts and attitudes should be how we can show the love of God to others, what we can do to help those in need, how can we use the money God has blessed us with to help the less fortunate.

God says that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and to love others as ourself. While the jobs and things we have been given and blessed with by God are not wrong, we need to keep in mind that they are not the important part of our lives. We are to be thinking of others and their need for love, acceptance and help. How can we encourage and build up someone, how can we help meet a need in their life.

There is nothing wrong with taking thought of our wants, needs and interests. The verse states ‘do not merely look out for your own interests’. Unfortunately, many times our own interests are all that concern us. May we daily ask God to help us think of others, look past the labels that are placed upon them and see the human being that we can help and encourage with the love and leading of God.

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