Saturday, September 27, 2008

And Then, We Were Thieves!

So Friday morning is typically an outing day for the girls and me. I like to take them to do something special on Fridays, like going to the zoo or the park. Something fun, a mommy/daughters special day. So this past Friday I decided to take them to the Tucson Children's Museum. I had been hearing about it from my other girlfriends and decided to check it out.
It was great. Very interactive for the girls with lots of things to see and do. Right up until Toria decided to pee on the floor. That would be my potty-trained toddler, who decided to stand in the middle of the Enchanted Rainforest and piddle, right on the floor, as she is telling me that she is peeing on the floor. WHAT??? Not, mama, I need to go potty, as usual, but mama, look, I'm peeing on the floor. WHAT??? IS THAT SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY?? WHAT??? ARE??? YOU??? DOING????!!!
Well, we had a wet, not so fun walk to the bathroom, which seemed like a mile and a half away with a sloshy child and wet shoes. After lots of toilet paper for the drying effect (of course we didn't have a change of clothes with us. SHE'S POTTY TRAINED!! evidently only most of the time), and regaining composure, we returned to the museum play area to try again. We enjoyed the music room where the girls got to bang of the different types of drums and shake the handbells. The girls had a blast in this room and went from instrument to instrument, shaking and banging on everything they could get their hands on.
We ventured from there to the 6th Avenue Market area, where the kids get to push around a pint-sized shopping cart and fill it with groceries to take for check-out. They get to weigh out produce and ring them up at a cash register. I thought this would be so much fun for the girls, so I found a place to "park" the stroller, grabbed Juju out of it, and turned around to grab Toria's hand for the shopping experience. Except that Toria wasn't there. Or anywhere. Quick scan of the room. No Toria. Enter frantic mom. Walk quickly. Stay calm. Don't freak out. She has to be here somewhere. Close. Her legs are small. She couldn't have gone that far. Scanning, scanning, looking. No Toria. Walk becomes brisk, from room to room, bordering run. Franticly scanning. No Toria. Panic. Check the dinosaurs. No Toria. Check the music room. She had fun in there. No Toria. Panic, fright. By now I am running to the front desk to report my child as missing, and who do I see sitting on the computer by the front door. Toria. Hug her or beat her? Hug her or beat her? Tough decision. Hug her, then beat her.
It was in that moment that my shoe broke. The bottom of my sandal came unglued, to match my attitude at the moment. So every step that I took, the shoe doubled under itself, making walking with the shoe quite a joke.
It was in that moment, that I opened the front door of the museum and escorted everyone out. Fun Friday over. Going home. I removed the shoe, walked with one shoe on, baby in stroller, toddler holding on to stroller, tightly, quickly to the van. Fun Friday done.
After I got everyone loaded into the van and was about halfway home, I reached into my purse to grab something, only to notice that "someone" had slipped one of the handbells from the music room into said purse. Little one liked the handbells so much, she decided we needed to have one for our own collection. Now we're thieves. Even better. Fun Friday Finished.
We'll be making another trip to the Tucson Children's Museum, not for another fun day. No, that won't be for a while now. We have to return said stolen property. Ah, the joys of parenting.
Grace and peace. Especially for Fun Fridays.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Finally, an E-mail Worth Passing On

Ok, so this was sent to me. I don't know if this is actually practical, but it sure does sound good on paper. It sounds much better than where we are headed right now. Enjoy:

I'm against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG.

Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in
a We Deserve It Dividend.

To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000
bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+.

Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman
and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..

So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billon that equals $425,000.00.

My plan is to give $425,0 00 to every person 18+ as a
We Deserve It Dividend.

Of course, it would NOT be tax free.
So let's assume a tax rate of 30%.

Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes.
That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.

But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket.
A husband and wife has $595,000.00.

What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?
Pay off your mortgage - housing crisis solved.
Repay college loans - what a great boost to new grads
Put away money for college - it'll be there
Save in a bank - create money to loan to entrepreneurs.
Buy a new car - create jobs
Invest in the market - capital drives growth
Pay for your parent's medical insurance - health care improves
Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean or else

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks
who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other compan y
that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.

If we're going to re-distribute wealth let's really do it...instead of trickling out
a puny $1000.00 economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.

If we're going to do an $85 billion bailout, let's bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!

As for AIG - liquidate it.
Sell off its parts.
Let American General go back to being American General.
Sell off the real estate.
Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

Here's my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn't.

Sure it's a crazy idea that can work.

But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!

How do you spell Economic Boom?

I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion
We Deserve It Dividend more than the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC .

And remember, The Family plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

hehe. um, yes please.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thoughts on Citizenship


Well, I just spent the morning with my family at our city convention center with about 4,000 other people watching my husband being sworn is as a US citizen. Now, not all four thousand people were there for my husband, but they should have been because he's just that great. There were about 1,900 other people who took the oath of citizenship along with my man. We cheered, flags were waved, songs were sung, speeches were spoken, and then oaths were sworn with right hands lifted high. And it all just has me thinking. Uh-oh. That's usually a problem.

Now don't get me wrong; I am ecstatic that his citizenship went through. We will now be able to travel as a family under the same passports, enter the same lines without questions and go through the same embassies for visas. That makes me so happy. I guess I am just wondering about where our citizenship belongs in the first place.

As I listened to the many men and women this morning recite the pledge of allegiance, I thought of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who would not bow down to pay homage to an idol made by human hands (Daniel 3). I just wonder if they would have pledged their allegiance to a flag created by human hands, representing an empire created by the human imagination. Now granted, said empire had good goals at one point in time, and on many levels still does, but still remains to be an empire. And where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down the idol that represented the empire of King Nebuchadnezzar, but chose rather to be thrown into the fiery furnace over compromising their allegiance, I just wonder if sometimes we have missed the mark a bit with all our national pride and claiming God's blessings on this particular empire.

Now before you label me a traitor and put together a lynch mob, hear me out. I'm just thinking out loud here what it means to live out loud the words that we read on a daily basis. Because somehow, I feel in my heart of hearts, that we are far from the picture of the early Church, and still missing the mark of what Jesus laid out for us. Here's what I mean: Throughout Scripture we are told over and over again that our citizenship is not here on earth, not belonging to any one nation but that we are a people unto Himself, called to be set apart and live differently than the rest of the world. For instance:
You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.
Leviticus 20:26

To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 10:14-15

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:28-29

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Philippians 3:20

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:9
I could fill this post with the Scripture that I found regarding citizenship and being a nation of people, holy priests, set apart for God. What does that mean for us? Does it mean that we retreat to live communal lives centered around fulfilling this picture? I haven't completely ruled that out yet, but from what I see of the early Church, they were still in the mix of the empire in which they were living. They were set apart, among the empire of the world. Even harder.

No where in Scripture do I see that Jesus taught His followers to fight back in retaliation for wrong done. No where did He teach them to assemble an army and stand their ground with weapons and force. Jesus Himself certainly didn't fight back, when He had all reason, all authority, and all power to do so. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, God fought for the people, protecting them, swallowing up armies and chariots. God instructed them that vengeance belongs only to God, which is a good way of saying, “Vengeance is not for you.” It is the forbidden fruit. God scolded the people over and over for taking things into their own hands. Jesus carried that through by teaching a message that was so subversive to the Roman empire, whose policy was to demand allegiance or give death.

Jesus taught His followers during those times of the violent Roman empire to turn the other cheek if they were slapped. He did not teach them to fight back, or defend, or stand up for themselves, or that freedom is not free. He said turn the other cheek. You see, in turning the other cheek, you lift your chin back up, and look the offender in the eye. By turning the cheek, the person says, "I am a human being, made in the image of God, and you cannot destroy that." Do not cower and do not punch back. Make sure the person looks into yours eyes and sees your sacred humanity, and it will become increasingly harder for that person to hurt you ("Jesus for President" p. 92).

That's a hard thing to think about, especially in this day and age that is full of terrorism and such hatred among the nations. Jesus is also the one who told us that we should not resist an evil person. How do you live that out? He told us that if we are dragged to court and our shirt is demanded of us, to give our coat as well. And if we are called upon to walk a mile with a Roman soldier, or Muslim sheik, to walk two instead. Offer yourself for the second mile. Be inconvenienced. Get to know him and demonstrate absolute radical unconditional love. These make no sense in our day and age, and application of the Word seems so completely distant.

I wonder if we, as a body of Christ followers, have aligned ourselves more with our "blessed" nation than we have with the Church of God. The Church of God is a transnational body, united by the blood of Christ. Rather than placing our hope in a transnational church that embodies God’s kingdom, we assume America is God’s hope for the world, even when it doesn’t look like Christ. I just wonder about pledging allegiance to an empire. Jesus told us that we cannot serve two masters, which translates to me that we cannot pledge our undivided allegiance to two kingdoms.

Someone sent me an email a few days ago with a picture of Barack Obama on a stage with a few other politicians. There was an American flag behind them, and all but Obama had their hand over their heart pledging allegiance to said flag. This email was bashing his patriotism, or seemingly lack thereof. I really thought that I had been vocal enough about these slanderous emails and such so that folks would stop sending them to me, but evidently there are some who have not read previous blog posts. Anyhow, it made me wonder. There is a large Christian majority that slammed his lack of patriotism, but maybe we need to check our own patriotism. Is it right for us, as followers of Jesus Christ, to place our hands over our hearts and pledge our undivided allegiance to a flag of human creation, representing an empire of human imagination? I think of the bravery and courage and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego taking their strong, silent stand, holding firm in their allegiance to the one true God. They so honored God with their firm stand that Jesus met them in the fire to stand with them.

I want to be like them when I grow up.

Grace and peace y'all. Journey on.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hair Help

Ok, y'all. I am quite challenged when it comes to hair type of issues. So I find myself in quite a quandary. I recently got my hair chopped off. It was a post-Africa, need to feel pretty again and not so plain, sort of an impulse. And while I like my new do, it requires that I use "product" in my hair. I am most definitely a rookie to using "product," so my question is, for those who use it regularly, once you put it in, how do you get it out?
I am using a "root booster" (is it taboo to share your hair fix secrets?), and I'm pretty sure that it has permanently changed the composition of my hair. Seriously. I can't seem to wash it out. I haven't used it in 2 days now, but when I blow dry my hair, it is most definitely still there.
Is there something I am missing? Some sort of beauty secret to get the stuff out of the hair when shampoo, multiple washings, just doesn't seem to do the trick?
Just thought I'd put it out there. I'm sure there is someone out there who can help me!
Grace and peace in the meantime, even for funky hair issues.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Princess Indeed

At one point or another in every little girl’s life, she has dreamt of being a princess. It seems to be inherent in the makeup of a girl, who envisions herself as a beauty to be pursued and fought for. She dreams of the handsome prince riding up on a white stallion, sword drawn, shield over arm, ready to wage war on anyone who stands in the way of his love. As youths, we would drape pillowcases down the back of our head and prance around in mother’s high-heeled shoes, as only a princess could. We would play dress-up with feathery boas and paint makeup all over our faces. We would dream of growing up and living out that fairy tale story of a Prince Charming whisking us away to a far-off and romantic land to live happily ever after.

We would watch Disney creations such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” and imagine how romantic it would be to live as a princess. Even as we grew up, we would see movies such as “Pretty Woman” and think to ourselves that the fairy tale really can happen. Somewhere in the midst of all of the drama though, we either forgot or were never told to begin with that we are indeed already princesses. We already have a claim to royalty and are already part of the royal bloodline. Every single one of us.

You see, in the beginning God made heaven and earth and everything that we see around us. And then He made man and woman, in His image. In His own image we were made, in the image of the Most High King. So we are all His from the beginning by way of creation alone. But God doesn’t stop there. It wasn’t enough for Him to simply be our Creator. He desired a relationship with us as sons and daughters. In Ephesians 1:4-6, it says, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” God specifically chose us to be His children. “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:12-13).” This was the Creator’s deliberate choice to have us in constant relationship with Him, not as a taskmaster or drill sergeant, but as a Father who loves and adores His children would guide and direct them.

Let me say it this way: It’s like the difference between paternity and fatherhood. Paternity describes a relationship in which a man is responsible for the physical existence of a child; fatherhood describes an intimate, loving relationship, chalked full of guidance, discipline, rebuking and loving. In the sense of paternity, we are all children of God because we are His creation. Psalm 139 says His hands formed us in our mothers’ womb. But in the sense of fatherhood, we are children of God only when he makes his gracious approach to us, as stated in Ephesians 1:4-6, we respond to Him and then enter into a relationship with Him.

1 John 3:1 says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” The love that comes from our Father in Heaven is so outlandish, so exotic, so out-of-this-world. There is nothing to which we can compare that sort of love here on earth, and our minds are not capable of understanding such selfless love. But it is by this magnificent love that the we are given the titles of “children of God.” By the authority of God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit, you and I have officially been given the title of “Child of the Most High King,” and for us women, that translates over into “Princess.”

Grace and peace, y'all. Praying that you are living out the reality of your title.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cultural Christianity

So, last week a Rabbi from a local Jewish synagogue came to our church, a non-denominational evangelical church, to share with us the general beliefs of modern-day Judaism. I don't know why it's taken me so long to write about it because it has been on my heart continuously since that day. Truly, it fascinates me to no end, and on some level, I think that it should fascinate all of us as followers of Christ, because they were, and still are, God's chosen people first.

Now, before you blast me for that last comment, yes, I totally agree that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). But Scripture also says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Romans 1:16)."

Paul goes on in Romans 9:1-5 to say,
"I speak the truth in Christ - I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit - I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen."
Amen, indeed! There is no denying that Israel was God's chosen nation first. In my heart, it makes it more special, then, that I can be a part of that chosen nation, not by birthright, as one born of the Jewish family, but by the adoption of my Heavenly Father into that glorious family! Paul continues on in that same chapter to say,
"It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, 'It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.' In other words, it not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring."
Um, yeah, so that would be us, those who call on the name of Jesus, those who have believed the promise of the Messiah in Jesus Christ. We are regarded as Abraham's offspring! As my dear uncle would say, If that don't set you on fire, your wood must be wet! Seriously, that lights up my heart to know that I am regarded as a child of Abraham, as part of the lineage of Jesus Christ, to be a part of the people of the patriarchs, and the covenant and the temple worship! This is all very exciting stuff!

But, I digress. This rabbi was telling us about what it means to be a "cultural Jew." There was a question asked of him by a lady in the audience, stating that she plays cards with a handful of Jewish ladies on a regular basis. The Jewish ladies were saying that they do not regularly go to the synagogue, but that they are more "cultural Jews." So the question was to simply understand what it means to be a "cultural Jew."

So the rabbi began to share with us that, for the most part, Jews are known for being people of deed and not creed, saying that they are not heavy into theology, but more try to live out what it is to be a Jew. He was saying that it was not burdensome to live out the 613 laws that are in place for the Jewish people, because it is simply what they know of life. They don't know any other way of living other than to follow the Jewish law. Now, while this has some very difficult implications, such as trying to earn your way into Heaven, it also has some incredibly beautiful implications. Hang with me for a moment while I try to unravel these thoughts.

From birth, a Jew is taught that he/she is a Jew, part of God's chosen nation, called to be set apart and live life differently than the rest of the world. Daughters are taught by mothers how to live a life that brings honor to their God; sons are taught by fathers what it means to be a man who follows the commands of God. They learn from the earliest age that they are to do this and not do that because they are called to be different. They learn from the very beginning that they are to live lives that are set apart, visibly different from the surrounding world. To me, this is fascinating, and quite inspiring. They live the way that they live because it was taught to them by those whom have gone before them. This is how we live as a people. If they walk away from Judaism, they walk away from everything they know of life. It is that ingrained in their minds and hearts. There is no separating the two. They are not Jews for Saturday services, and then live "normal" lives the rest of the week. It defines everything that they do, how they think, how they eat, how they speak. To walk away from that would be to walk away from life altogether.

What if we, as followers of Christ, as those living in the promise, were defined in such a way? What if we were so distinct in our thoughts, speech, dress, how we eat, how we interact with others? What if we were cultural Christians? And truly, if we were living that out, turning the other cheek, loving our enemies, walking the extra mile, giving our cloak and tunic, we would be creating Kingdom culture.

See, it's not about living up to the 613 laws of the Book of the Law, or earning our way into Heaven. This much we know. We've got that down. But sometimes I can't help but wonder if we are just a bit too comfortable with the grace that has been so freely offered to us, to the point of being irreverent. Where we have so shaken off tradition and ritual for the sake of speaking and living freely from the heart, I just wonder if we have thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

If we are a people who dress like the rest of the world for the sake of keeping up with the latest fashion trends, are we truly set apart? Are we clothed in strength and dignity, or are we a stumbling block to our brothers' eyes because we want to feel beautiful? If we are a people who speak like the world around us, are we truly set apart? Are you engaging in the trash-talk of candidates, gossiping about others around you, or are you keeping the words of your mouth wholesome and edifying? If we are spending money like the world around us, gathering more gadgets or keeping up with the latest just for the sake of having it all, or are we taking care of each other so that none has too much or too little?

Don't you think it's time that we redefine ourselves and how the world sees us? While we as a body are fantastic (sometimes too good) at pointing out what is wrong with this world, we are rarely part of the solution for the world. Let us, as a people united, strive to redefine our culture. By "our culture," I mean the culture of the body of Christ, living as the Holy Nation that God has invited us to be a part of, living as a people who are set apart from those around us. And I don't mean in a superior, we've got it all figured out, sort of hierarchy way. But more of a humble, servant sort of way. Like the Way of Jesus. Let us be defined by that, teaching our children from the earliest of ages that they do or don't do certain things because we are called be different, set apart, children of the Most High King.

This may require some reevaluating of current living, and that can be a very good thing. Why do you do the things that you do? Where did you learn to do such things? Who laid your foundation? How could you create more of Kingdom culture in your life? Are you now living such a compelling life, entrenched in the Way of Christ, that if you walked away from it, you would lose everything? Or would you simply lose a Sunday service and everything else would be the same? I don't mean to step on toes. Well, maybe I do, but oh so gently, and with the utmost of love for you. I just think that we can do this better.

In all things, friends, there is Grace and peace.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Shaping Up

So, now that we are officially back, it's time to get busy on the body again. For quite some time I have been struggling with the status of my post-baby (x2) body. Truly, I can't blame it on the babies anymore, as the youngest is now 18months old. I will blame it on a lack of self-control, a sweet tooth with too much control, and not enough discipline to make it right.

Well, it seems that three months in Africa will cure a sweet tooth, as my cravings are certainly not what they used to be. In fact, I purchased some Toblerone chocolate in the airport, so excited to see chocolate again, but never opened it to actual savor the sweetness. I just haven't been wanting it.

So, I have begun working out again (ugh) and trying to reclaim the body that was. I started a walk/run program from Runner's World, with the hopes of being able to run a 5k race at the end of 8 weeks. I dread posting this up here, as it seems that I have not been great about finishing things that I start. So now, it's official. I can be held accountable.

I walked/jogged on Monday morning, walked on Tuesday morning, and am now waiting for the girls to wake up so that I may load them in the stroller for a walk/run this morning.

I have found a 5k race on October 25th that I am shooting for. I'll keep you posted. Grace and peace y'all.

I'll try to get some pictures from Africa up and give a wrap-up report of sorts. Thanks for hanging with me!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Love One Another

Goodness. Time flies by, and I neglect my duties. Sorry!! We are back in the states now and getting settled back in. The jetlag is starting to wear off and we are finding our new routines here. I must say that we came back at a very ugly time politically speaking. I know that things are going to get much worse before they get any better, but I just have to say this to get it out there and off my chest.

Stop slandering the name of a fellow Christ follower!

Seriously folks, you know who you are if you are doing it. It is wrong and goes against everything that we claim to believe as followers of the Way of Jesus.

Jesus said in John 13:15, "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."

And in John 13:34-35, He said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

What is going in the political arena just makes my heart sick. You have to know that I am not necessarily a fan of Barack Obama. Politically speaking, I have not yet made my decision and am still considering lots of different issues (because it really is about more than just abortion and gay marriage). But the man claims to be a follower of Christ Jesus, just as I do, and I know that I am not wise enough or holy enough to judge him. I do not sit on any sort of throne that I may judge his state of salvation or his sincerity to love the Lord. Truth be told, neither do you.

You want to talk politics? That's great. Stick to the issues. You may or may not agree with the plans and strategies that he has put forth should he become president. That's okay. Scripture says, "Come, let us reason together." But in reasoning together, you do not tear down the very character of the human being.

But when you start slandering his character, when you start calling him names like terrorist, communist, or Bible mocker, you are no longer talking politics. You are defaming the person, who was created in the very same of image of God that you were.

This just breaks my heart because it shows the great disconnect that is too alive in the Church. Jesus told us that if we love one another all men will know that we are His disciples. I hear bold "Christians" who have stood up and called Obama some horrendous names and stretched truths and pulled many words of any sort of context for the sake of political gain. The Jesus that I know and adore would not be a part of that conversation, but might have a few names of His own, such as Pharisee.

I have just begun reading a very interesting book called "Jesus for President" (which I think every follower of Christ should read, by the way) when I came across this statement:
Some of us may remember a Sunday school tune: "His banner over me, his banner over you, is love, love, love." This is another way of saying his banner, and not Rome's banner, is over me. And his banner means "love, love, love," not Rome's "freedom, peace, and security." We wave the banner for Jesus and not for Rome, the United States of America, or any other nation or empire that vies for our allegiance.

But it wasn't as if Jesus wanted Rome's power or wanted to gain a foothold in the culture wars of his time. He didn't want to climb Caesar's throne. This political language doesn't harmonize with the contemporary church project of "reclaiming America for God." Precisely the opposite: Jesus was urging his followers to be the unique, peculiar, and set-apart people that began with Abraham. He didn't pray for the world in order to make governments more religious: he called Israel to be the light of the world - to abandon the way of the world and cultivate an alternative society in the shell of the old, not merely to be a better version of the kingdom of this world.
I found that very timely and very interesting in light of all the smearing of names that is happening. Whoever wins this political battle, so be it. But for heaven's sake, be a good ambassador of Jesus in the meantime. Are you talking about issues and the best course of action for the country as a whole, or are slandering the character of a human being, one who claims to be on the same journey as you, one who bears the same image of the Creator as you? Don't disgrace Jesus or His Way for the sake of political agendas.

What does the Scripture say...What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?

Mercy. Let us end well, brothers and sisters, that our behavior and heart attitude is glorifying to God in all situations. That we are bringing Him honor in all things that we do. Tearing down one of His children is not how to bring Him honor. We are to build each other, edify, and yes, challenge. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. But we are not sharpening, edifying, or building anything other than political agendas when we are sending around emails full of unsubstantiated lies and half-truths, posting YouTube videos on blogs that are just down right mean, not to mention way off base and out of context. This is not how we build the Church. This is how we drive others away. Why would the world want to be a part of such a divisive and judgmental group of people?

We are called to be different...a peculiar people, known for our love of each other. Honestly, it is not your call to say whether or not Barack Obama is a follower of Christ. He says that he is. The King of kings is the only One worthy of determining his heart condition. It is not for any of the rest of us to judge, but to love him as we would any other brother of the Church.

Let us end this well, brothers and sisters. Let us rise above the ways of this world and live according to the calling which we have received. Let us love.

Grace and peace y'all. It's good to be home.