Gluten Free Movements

Rethinking Black Live Matter

Read the Label

The definition of an allergen is a substance to which the body reacts, triggering an immune response. More than ever, consumers are paying attention to what is in the food they eat because they may be allergic or have a sensitivity. Look for the “gluten free” label or endure digestive distress. Lactose can result in unpleasant consequences. Peanut derivatives can cause anaphylaxis that may even result in death. To add to the challenges, some people may not be allergic to foods that might be deadly to others. It is vital we know what is in our food.

Similarly, in the halls of congress, certain bills can contain more than first appears. The strategy of hiding line-items in the text that are only loosely related to the main substance of a bill is called “pork barrel politics.” It is a way of directing money toward pet local projects of legislators by a sort of legislative sleight-of-hand.

More than Meets the Eye

I had a “things aren’t all they appear” experience several years ago when I made the acquaintance of a fellow that held the same opinion as I regarding the deployment of the National Guard to overseas duty. We both agreed that was a bad thing so I thought I had found a partner in the cause. But as time went on, I discovered that my “partner” had even more issues on his agenda, one of which was an antagonistic view of local law enforcement.

My son-in-law is a cop. We’re proud of it. The police we know are hard-working, honorable men and women. There was no way I was going to allow myself to get lumped into an anti-cop agenda while working on the National Guard issue. I parted company with my activist friend, leaving him to follow the dictates of his conscience.

I believe the ecclesia must do the same with Black Lives Matter because the movement is not “gluten free.” Why would I say that? Based on the singular meaning of the name, there can be no dispute. Black lives DO matter. The injustice and systemic racism that has been part of the black experience is unconscionable and plainly evil. The simple message of the name Black Lives Matter calls for national repentance and I agree with that unreservedly. Nevertheless, I would prefer to use a different rallying cry. Honor and Respect Black Lives, perhaps.

Moreover, BLM is disconnected from the roots of the civil rights movement. Dr. King’s activism was grounded in his faith. His call for equality was born of his understanding of the love of God and the redemptive, unifying work of the cross of Jesus. His strategy was non-violent. Black Lives Matter is linked only by the simple meaning of the words. It’s core values are purely secular.

The problem with BLM is that the agenda of the organization goes beyond the plain meaning of the name. Black Lives Matter comes “bundled” with secularism and the affirmation of a certain sexual ethic which stands in opposition to the values of the new community, namely the LGBTQ agenda.

Challenge Hatred

Now, let me clarify something. We in no way approve demeaning or threatening behavior toward LGBTQ persons. All people are created in the image of God and members of that community are no exception. We will not tolerate hateful treatment toward members of the LGBTQ community any more than members of the black or Hispanic communities. Hatred is a cancer on the human soul that must be identified and opposed wherever it is found.

Furthermore, we decline to lobby for or against legislation relative to the free exercise of the LGBTQ lifestyle. We believe that choice is a God-given privilege and if the Creator himself declines to interfere with a person’s choices, we must follow that example. Though we may not agree with the choices people make, it is not up to us to prohibit them, nor to insist that others live like we do. Moreover, we believe that worldly governments and their affairs are separate from the Kingdom, so we stay clear of political involvement. As Frank Viola has said, it is not our job to make this world a better place, but for us to be a better place in this world according to the values of the Kingdom of God.

That said, within our community, we are unapologetically binary, cisgender and monogamous by conviction. Our reasons for that might be a topic for another day, but for now, let us simply say that is the sexual ethic that we affirm. It is assumed that anyone who would want to share our journey would choose to honor those convictions with us. As for those outside of our community, we ask that they practice charity toward us as we do toward them.

Honor and Respect

I hope they will, but I won’t count on it. Why? Because it seems the LGBTQ agenda allows for nothing less than full acceptance. When it comes to our beliefs within our community, “don’t ask, don’t tell” may not do. I get the feeling that we must acquiesce or be branded as hateful bigots. Hopefully, I am wrong about that. It would be nice if we can be left alone to believe what we must, but whether we will be remains to be seen.

In the meantime, our devotion to Christ invites us to love others whether we agree with them. It is our privilege to extend grace, compassion, and acts of kindness to all people. It is our responsibility to defend and protect from hatred and malice. Disagreement with others does not preclude acts of love toward them. We will join the national repentance that calls us to Honor and Respect Black Lives even as we extend charity to the LGBTQ community.

Microcosms of Malice

This post originally appeared in another of my blogs on November 8, 2017

And so it happens again, this time in a church. People are gathered to worship. Children playing with friends. Adults enjoying conversation. There is music and prayer. A community has come together in the name of the Lord, Jesus.

A man, boiling with hatred enters the sanctuary and begins firing a weapon which has as its sole purpose the taking of human life. It performs flawlessly. Twenty-six brothers and sisters of the Kingdom are dead with another twenty injured. The illusion of safety in this world, if such an illusion persisted, is shattered in a tiny town in Texas.

Another mass shooting. Days before, a worshiper of a demon god (certainly no righteous deity could have inspired such an act) murders eight innocents with a rented truck in New York. Before that, 58 killed in Las Vegas. Elsewhere in the world, acts of cowardly inhumanity are standard fare. Hatred has gone viral.

The Clock Ticks Toward Midnight

There is a hurricane of malice battering our coast-lands. Spiritual climate change, it seems, as God removes restraint—all right, then, have it your way.

We Kingdom dwellers need to carefully guard our response. It is all too easy to be caught up in debates about gun control, the roots of terrorism or domestic violence. I learned recently that such debates easily ignite small conflagrations that burn with acrimony. I had carelessly posted a remark about demon gods being the inciting spiritual influence behind the situation in New York. I did so without elaboration or explanation. It was cathartic. I had spoken my mind. Howled my indignation. Surely, I was justified and it felt good. Soon I became aware I had inadvertently kindled among my friends one of those heated discussions. Moreover, I realized that what had emerged from my carelessness was a tiny microcosm of the very event I had decried in my original post. Violence and hatred can scar city streets or wound human hearts. No matter which, it is the same virus, only a question of degrees.

I deleted the post. Would that malevolence were so easily erased from the world.

Sadly, it is not. But we who live here between the worlds can use the events that happen around us to incite us to peace, and invite us to mercy. Debates and discussions will not serve in a world approaching midnight. We need to let hatred and offense remind us to love one another and to extend that love to those outside wherever we can. The weapons of our warfare are not assault rifles or crippling arguments, they are acts of love and hearts turned toward the coming of the Kingdom.

Culture, Cosmology and the Multiverse

Theoretical physics has brought us the notion that our single universe is not necessarily all there is. The “multiverse” idea is a hypothetical mega-universe full of numerous smaller universes, including our own.

~Nancy Atkinson, Senior Editor, Universe Today

Look at All the Smart People

OK, that gives me a headache. The whole universe is made up of other, itty-bitty universes? What is Ms. Atkinson smoking?

But wait! She’s only channeling other learned ones of science. Folks like Max Tegmark, professor at MIT. And then there’s Sir Roger Penrose, English mathematical physicist and Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, and the list goes on. I know the list goes on because I was planning on mentioning some others, with all their academic credentials– but sheesh! That’s a lot of bandwidth. Just go to Wikipedia and search “multiverse.” There’s a boatload of very smart people listed there. And they all think there is good reason to believe there is more than one dimension. It is true what Scientific American said in an article summary: “Parallel universes [are] not just a staple of science fiction. Other universes are a direct implication of cosmological observations.”

Continue reading “Culture, Cosmology and the Multiverse”

Driven Back to Our Roots

Surrendering what we’re satisfied with…

I realize I have been lamenting the destruction of our national symbols. But, could it be this is not a bad thing relative to the Kingdom? If we remove the idols of nationalism, may we find our way back to Y’shua? If we can no longer rely on the American creed, and we cannot embrace what is coming, then will we not be driven back to the roots of our faith, the Kingdom message? If we must surrender what we’ve been satisfied with, might God give us what we are hungry for?

A New Community

100 days and counting…

That is how long we have been, more or less, locked down. I never expected it. Yet, here we are, over three months into what appears to be a new normal. And in the background, thrumming away like evil crickets, are the pandemic, rioting, anger, judgment, and political rage.

I wish it would stop.

But it shows no sign of stopping. Every time I venture out, I see people walking around with masks on to protect themselves from the toxic environment. Look at it from the other direction and we are protecting others from ourselves and our pathologies. The world has gone septic and there does not seem to be a remedy. 

I will say this about quarantine, it gives one time to think. In the process, I have come to wonder if I have anything to offer in a social climate that reflects nothing like the gospel of peace. My wondering has led me to a conclusion: As followers of Jesus we are now being called to a separate peace and a new community. No more business as usual.

To write those words causes a reaction in me. They feel like exaggeration. Hyperbole. Things will calm down. No need to imagine a future much different than we have known. But I am not so sure. Societies experience corrosive seasons that fundamentally change them. At present, symbols of national heritage are being indiscriminately torn down and there is no guarantee that they will be replaced with anything. Chop away at the roots of a tree and the tree dies, topples over. If the church is too dependent on the tree, she may topple with it. 

Peter the apostle, wondered in his second letter to the church,

“Since all these things are to [be destroyed] in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God?”

As reactionary as it may sound, I believe we have come to the time of ecclesia, that is the calling out of an assembly. The old American church has been too dependent on the culture in which it was formed. That culture, in ways both subtle and obvious, is turning against it. A friend shared this quote in his Facebook feed:

Some people aren’t loyal to you … they are loyal to their need of you … Once their needs change, so does their loyalty.

I think this is true of societies; of twenty-first century America. The church is not needed unless it is willing to reflect the changing values of the culture—not even wanted. Whatever loyalty the society once showed the church is dissolving. Moreover, the ecclesia must not show loyalty to any cause but the cause of Christ. That is why it is very unlikely that the new community, the ecclesia, will be tolerated. In this season, to be focused on Christ alone will be seen as disloyal.

The church is nearing rocky shoals. If she doesn’t come round she will be driven aground. So, come round she must. The church must set a course for open water where she is not in danger of shipwreck on these shores. It must be her own course and not some other creed or cause. She must plot a course for the Kingdom.

June 2020

Quarantine…systemic racism…police brutality…sexual preference…

I am confused and burdened by the world right now. I feel disappointed in myself that I can’t seem to rise above it, trust only the Lord. I imagine waiting it out and returning to “normal.” But there is the possibility that we won’t know what the “new normal” is for a very long time.

Abba, the moorings of this society are weakening. The tethers that have held us are coming undone. How shall we then live? Since we are being drawn into a world of expanding options, it is needful that we choose. We are required to choose, knowing that when we do we will be traduced and condemned. We must choose who we will serve and make peace with the consequences.

Wanna Know a Secret?

You, too, can be an insider…

We all know the story of Adam and Eve, and that lying snake. What a colossal blunder! And all because they wanted to know what somebody else knew. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. It comes off something like this:

Adam and Eve are enjoying the garden when in strolls this angelic dude looking for a snack. Says he: “What do you have to eat around here?”

The first duo are the picture of hospitality. “We’ve apples, peaches, cherries. We’ve got some vegetables, too. Help yourself!”

And then, they remember… “Oh, except for that tree over there. That’s off limits.”

“Oh, yeah?” says the stranger. “Wussup with that one?”

Truth is, neither of the caretakers know. With so many fruits and vegetables around it didn’t seem like that big a deal. They just knew it would kill them.

“Hmm,” muses the stranger. And then the bait: “Ohhhhh, I get it,” he says.

Suddenly, they’re curious.“Get what?” ask our first parents. What does this guy know that they don’t? They want to know, too. In our world we call it FOMO…fear of missing out. Not only that, they don’t want to feel stupid.

Yup. One of the oldest tricks in the book. They wanted to be on the inside. They, too, wanted to know.

And we all know how that turned out.

Conspiracy Theories

There is something satisfying about knowing what others do not. It gives us a leg up, an advantage. It insulates us from being a schmuck, a patsy, a rube… It justifies smug satisfaction. The problem with conspiracy theories is that we often wind up being exactly what thought we were insulating ourselves from. In the end, it makes us look foolish.

I’ve been through a lot of conspiracy theories. I’ve seen the “man behind the curtain” many times. I remember when Henry Kissinger and Juan Carlos of Spain were the anti-Christ. I remember when we were assigning numbers to the Hebrew words so we could figure out all the secrets of history. And who could forget 88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be In 1988. I remember Y2K, the Shemitah year and the blood moons. Then there’s the Freemasons, the Illuminati, and Skull and Bones.

And now I hear that Bill Gates and other heartless billionaires, in a display of depraved self-indulgence that makes Hitler look like a Sunday school teacher, are willing to engineer a global pandemic resulting in the indiscriminate death of millions of men, women and children in order to further their diabolical global agenda. It’s a conspiracy! A plot with tentacles circling the world and involving potentially thousands of players. With so many moving parts, you just must ask, where are the whistle-blowers? Is there nobody among the players with a few grains of conscience who is willing to rip the Band-Aid off this malignant evil?

Indeed, you have to wonder. Considering that a handful of conspirators couldn’t keep the lid on the Watergate scandal, what are the chances of somebody pulling off a conspiracy of this magnitude with nobody spilling the beans?

Maybe what we ought to wonder is why we are drawn to this stuff. Is it because, after all these years since Eden, we still want the inside story, We still want to know.


For more thoughts about Christians and conspiracy theories click here.

A Mourning Walk

We had intended to stand out on the boulevard today as a gesture of mourning over the death of George Floyd. Then, the violence, destruction and looting began. The narrative shifted from outrage at the abuse of law to disgust over the breaking of it. More than that, the behavior of the crowd brought dishonor to the memory of George Floyd. We decided we had to choose a different way to mourn the callous injustice. We needed to go beyond merely taking a stand, we had to walk. We must change course and move toward a better future.

Truth is, standing by the curb is easy—one and done. Changing my behavior is  hard. If my grief and outrage only burns for an hour or two on the sidewalk, what difference was made beyond the assuage of conscience? If Minneapolis does not mark the beginning of new direction, then the memory of George Floyd will have been entrusted to the hooligans who used it as a pretext for violence and looting.

This man’s death ought to be a catalyst for change, a point in time that calls us to compassionate community. In the last few days there has been much screaming at cameras, hoping presumably, to be heard in Washington or at the State capitol. Maybe someone in the halls of power can do something this time. I have my doubts. A legislative agenda is no substitute for a good example, a change of heart and soul.

Moreover, I am tired of waiting for change. Do I really expect compassion to trickle down from some tower of political virtue? It has been said that “politics is downstream from culture.” If that is true, then the source of this contagion of hate is not in the White House or the halls of congress, it is in me. It also means that I, in my small corner of the world, have the power to change things.

But this kind of change does not come because I hold a sign by the boulevard and take a stand, it comes when I decide to be different and take a walk. Mother Theresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Small things can have an amazing impact. Consider COVID 19.

What might be the impact of small,  deliberate communities joining together to obey Christ’s command to love one another (John 13:34-35)? Am I convicted enough to change that much? Are you? I try to imagine the outcry over the death of George Floyd marking the beginning of an epidemic. Only this epidemic will not call for social distance but social unity. The symptoms of this virus are love, compassion and justice. Most of all, it calls for intentional relationship, the multiplication of small, extended families whose unified purpose is to…

Do Justice.
Love mercy.
And to walk humbly with our God.

~~~~

For more information about small and simple churches visit https://summithome.org. 

Between the Worlds

RELEVANT (rel’uh-vant) Bearing upon or connected with the matter in hand; to the purpose; pertinent…

What is really relevant to me and the matter at hand? I’ve watched more TV lately than I care to admit and have discovered that much of what I see doesn’t pass the relevance test. I don’t take any of the toxic medicines they advertise, I’m not in the market for a new car—we’d buy a good used one anyway. Don’t need a new mattress, and don’t care what the rich and famous are doing.

I’m non-partisan. Neither major party reflects my point of view. Republicans eat at the trough of the free market, believing that kindness and generosity are bred into the corporate soul. Democrats worship at the altar of civil government, thinking that public service and pure motives are corollaries. Then, there are special interest parties who see the world through green glasses or through the lens of theocracy.

Nope. I’m opting out. Non-partisan. During presidential election years I’ll endorse Abraham Lincoln. Yes, I know he’s dead, but he’s reliable. Anyway, my support of ‘Honest Abe’ is my way of saying, “not my circus, not my monkeys.”

I just want to be a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. I don’t want Jesus as a mistress—to tryst with him at church, but go home to what what I’m married to. I don’t want the new millennium Christ that is a mere shadow of who Jesus is as the son of God; I want the first century Jesus who is the cornerstone of real faith, not just the inspiration for pretenders to it. Here is the challenge: discover what is relevant to a mere sojourner here. Jesus sketched the challenge in the terms of being “in the world” while not being “of the world.”

Who am I? Better put, where am I? I am between two worlds: in one, but not of it; bound for another, but for the time being, bound TO the one I’m in. If that is true; if I and others on the “Jesus Way” are “between two worlds,” then the question of relevance is vital. What really matters? Where do we fit in this world—or do we fit at all?

I read a book The Reformers and Their Stepchildren. by Leonard Verduin. I highlighted this paragraph:

It is implied in the New Testament vision that Christianity is not a culture-creating thing but rather a culture-influencing one. Wherever the Gospel is preached human society becomes composite; hence, since the culture is the name given to the total spiritual heritage of an entire people, there can never be such a thing as a Christian culture; there can only be cultures in which the influence of Christianity is more or less apparent.

The challenge is to pick through the purple pills and new cars; the fast food and loose facts, and lay hold of the things that are important to an eternal God and valuable to an eternal people. I’m not here to throw stones, build walls, or tear down the establishment. I’m here to live like a sojourner and love like a follower of Jesus. I want to find others who want to do the same, and create a community of restless Christians who yearn for adventure.