Jesus Said

… we should be like children.
I think about that phrase quite often, since there are many children around me at any given moment. What part of being a child does Jesus want for us? Does he want us to be disrespectful, selfish, whiny, impatient, messy, crazies with little to no self-control? Uh… I guess… maybe? Probably not. But the innocent, trusting, fun-loving, joyful qualities of a child are easy to understand as qualities of the Kingdom. These are things that, though they might seem a bit unorthodox for the Kingdom ruled by the Creator himself, would seem appropriate.

The other day, my three-year-old daughter was shouting from the top of the stairs, “I neeeed hellllllp… Will somebody pleeeeeeease helllllllp meeee????” She had obediently gone up to the bathroom, done what she needed to do, and now she needed some assistance from an adult – again, obeying her Mom who had previously told her to wait for Mom’s assistance after she goes “number two”. My first thought was, “Man! That is so annoying!” But quickly, I was reminded of Jesus saying that we needed to be like little children. Could this be one of the ways?

I still maintain that Jesus was NOT talking about whining when he said that.

What I saw was a little girl who needed help, and wasn’t afraid to ask for it. Most adults I know are not good at asking for help, maybe they are just plain awful at it. We’re taught to be “adults” and take care of stuff on our own. But maybe a way we can be like a child – a way we can see the Kingdom of God – is to realize we need help, and to ask for it. Not necessarily from other people, but definitely from God. Our Father can, and wants to help us. One way we can know the greatness of the Kingdom is to let him help us, allow him to work in us, instead of trying to be an “adult” and get it done ourselves.

A cool lesson from my whiny three-year-old… who may know a bit more about the Kingdom that I have forgotten over my passage into adulthood.

… you will be persecuted because of me …
Tonight we watched a debate on the existence of God. A friend had sent me the link earlier in the day, and tonight I was intrigued enough to watch it through with Jen. The debate was mostly silly… neither side was really listening to the other. They were to a degree, but neither was going to convince the other of their points, or sway their beliefs in any way. Some of it was sarcastic and mean-spirited… a little annoying actually. πŸ™‚ I don’t think I’m a big fan of debates.

But the thing that I noticed was actually part of the lead-up to the debate. The footage they chose to show to introduce the Christian guys (Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron of The Way of the Master) was of them sharing “the gospel” in the streets, and the hostile reactions of some unbelievers. While that may be common footage, and perhaps an expected response (at least by Christians) … I was immediately reminded of where Jesus said that his followers would be persecuted because of him.

“Exactly!” misters Comfort and Cameron might say. However, as I recall from Scripture, the people who hated Jesus – who wanted to hurt and/or kill him – were the religious leaders of the day. The leaders of the religious establishment. They were the upstanding, moral, “religious right”. We think the people who will persecute Christians, who will hate us because of our message, are the hardened sinners who reject God with passionate fervor. But every example I can think of in the Bible of “sinners” is almost completely the opposite. Those “hardened sinners” flocked to Jesus. It was the self-righteous, cleaned-up, religious folk who persecuted Jesus and his followers.

Just a couple things to think about from what Jesus said.

Mormons, Catholics, Santeras… Oh my!

Catholicism and Santeria

So, the other night I was going through our video podcasts, getting caught up on the ones I hadn’t yet seen. There’s a little blue dot next to the new ones, it’s really cool. (We use FrontRow on our Mac Mini, hooked up to our TV in our living room.) We watch probably 8-10 different ones, including a couple tech-related ones, a NASA podcast, and a couple more from National Geographic.

Well, one of the National Geographic ones was called “Santeria“. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, so I clicked and watched. It was about people in Cuba, celebrating the Feast Day of St. Lazarus. (Or something like that.) It is a Catholic tradition, and in Cuba they go all out. They crawl on their hands and knees (or even bellies) for miles, with pain being a tribute to this “saint”.

The interesting part – and the reason for the little podcast – was a lady who is both Catholic, and a Santera. Santeria is a religion which worships many gods, who they believe correlate exactly with the saints of the Catholic church. So, St. Lazarus day also belongs to Babalu Aye, his “twin” African spirit.

I really don’t intend to put anyone down here, or start an argument at all… I’m really not sure why or how religious feelings go down so deeply, causing things like what Al Qaeda wants to do to “the infidels”, and all the similar events throughout history… but, when I saw this, it just reminded me that all religion is very strange. Even Catholics.

Now, you can say that the strange ones are the Santeras, who “made up” the African spirits that match the Catholic saints. And I know, the saints were at one time just ordinary, historical people. But… at least some Catholics pray to saints, and have these very ritualistic practices on the saints’ special days. It’s really just as religious as the Santeria religion. (Minus the animal sacrifices…) πŸ™‚

Why do most Christians think Mormons are worshipping demons, and have strange religious ceremonies (temple proceedings, baptisms for the dead, etc) when Catholics pray to Mary, various other “saints”, and have very religious rituals that are commonly practiced? There are tons of Catholic dotrines that are way outside of what you read in the Bible, and now the Pope (who himself is “outside of what you read in the Bible”) is saying that Catholics are the only real Christians.

I’m not bashing Catholics. Or Mormons. Or Santeras. (Ok, they’re the strangest of the bunch to me, but…) My point is, religion is so crazy. What is it in us that feels the need to appease a higher power so that life will go well for us. And don’t think I’m giving “mainstream” Christianity a pass, either. There are plenty of “appeasement” rituals there, too.

The whole idea that by doing some ritual, or saying some set of words a certain number of times, or anything like that is so foreign to what Jesus taught and lived. Actually, he ridiculed the religious leaders who tried to make others follow meaningless rituals and religious rites. He just loved people, and wanted them to know that God loves them. Sin hurts us, and Jesus came to defeat sin and death for us, cause we can’t. And he did.

Religion is a feeble attempt at the reality of life with God that Jesus showed us is possible. And is made possible through him. Not some incantations or rituals we do once a year, or more. But life lived everyday in companionship with our Father who loves us, and Jesus our brother, and his Spirit who lives in us and teaches us everything we need to know.

You can keep trying to make God like you, with your religious rituals – no matter how big or small. Or, you can just accept that he does. And that’s that.

[Related reading: He Loves Me by Wayne Jacobsen]

I Believe In The Holy Catholic Church…

The PopeIf you have not heard, the Pope decided recently to pull back the reins a bit on those loosey-goosey Catholics, and get back to the things that really made Catholics, well… Catholic.

Not only did he decide to do Mass in Latin once again (I think it’s called the “Tridentine Mass”), now he has said that the Catholic church is the only true church, based on apostolic authority (they think Peter was the first Pope, appointed by Jesus). All other churches are at best, deviations from the true church.

Isn’t that crazy??

I do have more to say, but… it’s late. So, here are some links. Form (and voice, if you care to) your own opinion. Perhaps I’ll comment more later…

The Fake God

Kirstie's Fake GodJen took Kirstie over to spend the night with some friends (which ended up getting canceled due to a sudden bout with tummy trouble!) and on the way over here’s how the conversation went…

“God is far away,” Kirstie stated matter of factly.

“Actually, he’s right here with us,” Mom replied. “God is very close.”

“No, not the real God,” she clarified, “I mean the fake god.”

“The fake god?” asked Mom.

“The white God, in the white building!”

If you drive past the Hill Cumorah visitor center, on the way to our house (we must pass this at least 3 or 4 times a week I’d guess?) you’ll see a bright, white, shining Jesus with arms outstretched. We always say hello to “Jesus” as we drive by. But, “He’s not the real Jesus,” we clarify.

Guess Kirstie picked up on that. πŸ™‚

Center Stage

Today as I was running an errand or two around our small town, I noticed that some people probably see our home a bit differently than we do.

First you have the tour guides, some of whom may even live near here year-round, who guide the happy tourists who come from all over. And, obviously, you have the tourists, who come from every corner of the globe. But, mostly from Utah. Then you even have the yellow t-shirt mob of Christians who, with the best intentions, have come to crash the party for the misguided Mormons.

And all of this takes place on the streets of our usually quiet little town.

It’s really very odd, and for a moment today I tried to imagine what it is like to visit this place not realizing that 50.5 weeks of the year it’s just “home” to a few thousand regular folk, like we the Campbells. And, if those tour guides are just flying in for the little 10 day site-seeing marathon… what do they think of our humble home town?

All the world is a stage, yes, but for 10-12 days in July, center stage in the lives of anyone connected to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Palmyra, NY!

They’re Baaaack

The annual Hill Cumorah Pageant is on!
When I went out for a “quick” visit to the post office today, I was reminded suddenly of just what is going on this weekend. See, in the middle of July, our town hosts the largest outdoor pageant in the world. Yes, folks… I said THE WORLD. Our town boasts a population of just about 3000 people on a good day. But over the course of a year (mostly in the month of July) we have 250,000 visitors from around the world come to see where the events leading up to the beginning of the Mormon church happened.

That makes for a LOT more congestion on our streets. πŸ™‚ My usual 2 minute trip to the PO ran me about 6 I think. πŸ™‚

Oh well. It will be over in less than two weeks. For now, we just get to see what it’s like to live in a bigger town. πŸ™‚

Our Only Rule Book

Our Only Rule Book?Inspired by recent readings, hearings and various thinkings floating through GregsHead, I have thought again about our push for being right. For knowing the truth and letting others “have it”. I read a column this morning by a local radio talk show guy who was certainly convinced that he had the “right” answer for what the church should be and do. (Now, I know… that’s his job… but still, furthers my point that we all love to be right.)

Maybe Christians are the worst at this. From early on, most of us are taught that there is a right, and definitely a wrong. Actually, many wrongs. We recently heard the Bible referred to as “our only Rule Book”. Ouch. Is that what it is? What about all the people who interpret it differently than you do? They have rules, too… just different from yours. In most cases (in the view of both parties) the other guy is wrong. And you’re right.

This obsession with being right actually removes us from relationship with other people. We focus so much on having and knowing the “truth” that we must first verify that those with whom we associate are “with us”, and “doctrinally correct”, and if not, we must instruct them accordingly. There is always a bit of an angst as errors in thinking must not be tolerated. At least when it comes to Christianity.

And there’s the rub. We have something (Christianity) that we need to protect, not Someone we want to introduce. An institution is defined. It has a Rule Book. It’s easy (at least, sort of) to protect and preserve. A Person is not. Someone who is alive and dynamic (yet the same “yesterday, today and forever”) is not easy to define, protect or preserve. Many have said, “You can’t keep God in a box.” Of course, they were probably referring to “the other guy’s box”… but, I believe that statement is true.

For some reason I was reminded of a strange rule we have made up today. Perhaps it’s due to hearing of marriages and other similar relationships dissolving for one reason or another. I remembered a “proof text” that many use for when it’s “OK” to divorce. Remember when Jesus said that divorce was bad… unlesssss… the WIFE has been unfaithful. Don’t you know that people (your intrepid author’s former self included) use that to say that if there has been infidelity (perhaps especially from the woman???) that divorce is OK. And hold mightily to the words Jesus said previously that divorce is always bad. Which, I believe is correct, since Jesus seemed to say it as truth… but we leave out the “context” part where something that’s bad might be better than something that’s worse.

On many such occasions, we take the Rule Book and we bash it over each other’s heads… saying my way is right. I got it from the Book! You must be wrong! (Even though our “adversary”) is many times doing exactly the same thing. They just view it differently.

I am coming to understand that it’s not my job to interpret the “Rules” for someone… for anyone else. My job is to be faithful to my understanding of what God wants from me, and then to love other people as I have been loved. Yes, sometimes love is “tough” and requires an uncomfortable confrontation – BETWEEN FRIENDS. It seems a confrontation is only effective (and then only sometimes) if relationship already exists. If not, why should the confronted change their “aberrant” behavior based on the “Rules” of a stranger?

The Bible is not a Rule Book. God doesn’t even want us to live by Rules. The Rules were fulfilled by Jesus. It is finished. That doesn’t mean it’s not good to live as God intended us to… certainly God’s law will last forever. BUT, we were never meant to keep the law… never able to do that. I’ve been reading Romans again, and Paul emphatically states that:

For no one is put right in God’s sight by doing what the Law requires; what the Law does is to make us know that we have sinned. But now God’s way of putting people right with himself has been revealed. It has nothing to do with law, even though the Law of Moses and the prophets gave their witness to it. God puts people right through their faith in Jesus Christ. God does this to all who believe in Christ, because there is no difference at all: everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence. But by the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free. … In this way God shows that he himself is righteous and that he puts right everyone who believes in Jesus. What, then, can we boast about? Nothing! And what is the reason for this? Is it that we obey the Law? No, but that we believe.

Taken from Rom 3:20-27, Good News Translation.

If you try to keep the Rules, and make others do the same, you’ll only be butting your head up against a wall that won’t ever be knocked down. We’re meant (I think) to live in the fullness of a restored relationship with our Creator, and then to love the other Createds he puts around us. Rules work perhaps in a computer program… where everything is always (supposed to be) the same. But when people are involved, Rules almost never work. We’re too unique. Principles, that can adjust to the context of a situation are more applicable, to be sure. But… maybe we could just make our only “rule” the rule to love everyone we meet, as we have been loved.

At least then the Rule Book would be a lot smaller. πŸ™‚

The Mormons – PBS

PBS: The MormonsLiving in Palmyra perhaps makes things with the words Mormon, or Latter-Day Saints, or Joseph Smith stand out at a quick glance. I caught an article today on a recent PBS series (that I was unaware of) called The Mormons. I found out that they have posted the entire video online, so I watched bits of it throughout the day. It’s a fascinating historical look at Joseph Smith and the LDS church. If you’re interested in such a thing… here are the links: (the video)

Mr. Deity

Mr. Deity
I found this show as a recommended video podcast on iTunes, and thought the description was interesting enough to check out. (And it wasn’t labeled “Explicit”, which you have to watch for on iTunes video podcasts…) I downloaded one show, and then decided to get them all! They’re short little sketches taking a pretty funny (often incorrect, but humorous) look at God and the things he does. πŸ™‚ The cast is Mr. Deity, Jesus, Larry (I think he’s playing the role of Holy Spirit…) and Lucy. (Lucifer is a woman.) If you’re offended by such things, don’t watch. But if you’re not, we think it’s pretty funny.

(I thought the Super Bowl press conference one was pretty funny…) πŸ™‚

Click the photo above to visit their site, or click here to go straight to their iTunes download page.

I Guess I’m Emergent?

Not too sure about the results here, but saw this on Chris’ blog and thought I’d take a crack at it. Last time I was Seventh Day Adventist, which was awesome. πŸ™‚

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don’t think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.



Neo orthodox


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan






Classical Liberal


Reformed Evangelical


Modern Liberal


Roman Catholic


What's your theological worldview?
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