Tag Archives: faith

Murderers! And The Lives They Live

There was quite a bit of conversation last week after I posted about the benevolent act of Philip Workman, a man executed in Tennessee last week for murder. The initial comments put me deep in thought and I’ve been trying to think through my values and ethics and trying to make sure I’m not holding double standards. This is not a direct response to those comments, but it was provoked by those thoughts. Today, I simply wanted to write a brief devotional thoughts post about some of the heroes of the Christian faith.

Moses seemed to often be in the right place at the right time. As a baby, when his fellow Hebrew tots were being killed off, Moses managed to get in with Pharaoh’s family and grow up as royalty. Then he grew up, learned a bit about his history, and in a moment of zeal kills a guy. He lives as a fugitive in the desert for about forty years and then goes on to lead one of the greatest freedom movements of ancient times, the exodus of the Jewish people out of Egypt. Moses was a murderer, though never captured and convicted, and he then went on to be a famous leader and a pillar of the Jewish and Christian faith.

David is the original Cinderalla-story: Shepard boy becomes Israel’s great King. Every kid in a church grows up hearing about how David slays Goliath. And we don’t really see it as murder, it’s the epic good vs. evil story, redemptive violence at its finest. So, most wouldn’t agree that David qualifies as a murderer for that. But the other story we don’t teach many kids in church, is about David committing adultery and then having a man killed to protect his crime. And as repentant as David might have been, David was a murderer. David even recommended the death penalty for a person who committed a crime such as his, but the sentence was never carried out. David is remembered as one of Israel’s Greatest Kings, which seems to overshadow his death-deserving crime.

Paul is, next to Jesus, probably the most influential forefather of the Christian faith. The guy wrote half the New Testament, established churches all over the Roman Empire and was a martyr for the faith. Paul was so special, Jesus even paid him a special visit after he’d already ascended to heaven. By his own admission Paul was a murderer of Christian’s prior to becoming one himself. The fact that Paul’s murderous campaigns were one of the greatest original threats to Christianity does not seem to phase us now as we lift him up as one of the founding pillars of our faith.

Jesus himself was more or less a fugitive for part of his three years of ministry. He constantly avoided certain areas and had to duck away from persecuting crowds (how he managed that is a mystery to me). And Jesus, who maintained his innocence until the very end received the death penalty.

The point of this short run down of Biblical figures was not to make a statement that murder is okay, by no means do I think killing someone is ever a good idea. It was a chance however to reflect on how four of the greatest figures in the Bible were or were treated as criminals, and yet we are able to look through that, around it, in spite of it and see the great good that was accomplished through them as well. I have the great honor to work with many youth who in their own moments have made grave mistakes and they are paying a price for that. However, I would hope I, and no one else, ever stamps a permanent label on them that keeps them from having a second chance and keeps others from recognizing each benevolent act that they make. Here’s to every murderer who has turned their life around and contributed to the well being of humanity, I applaud you.

Guest Writers Anyone?

I’ll start by saying I love writing, I also love reading. I enjoy talking to people and hearing others thoughts. I love that this blog has to a small degree become a place of dialog and a place were daily I can share and discuss with many others from different walks of life. I also know at times or maybe by some natural inclination, we might tend to flock towards people similar to us. It’s nice to be around people who will agree with you, but it’s probably not best.

I’m not sure how to do this in a way that works, but here’s my thoughts. Reading through my blogs you can get an idea of some of my values. If you read the comments of some of the regular readers around here, you can see that to some degree they share some of the same values. That’s not to say that we all think the same, but there are a number of shared beliefs, yet we still have interesting and constructive dialog. However, at the risk of offending someone, I think this dialog is lacking.

I’d like to open this blog somehow to those that think differently then me, that might disagree with my beliefs, my faith, my lifestyle choices, or anything else. I want to listen, not for a chance to argue, but for a chance to grow and learn. Hopefully for a chance to think through and experience a glimpse of life from a perspective I haven’t thought of before, or haven’t considered, or previously dismissed.

The Floor is yours. And there’s two ways we can do this. If you’d like just feel free to leave a comment below. But if you want to put a little more time and effort into it, use the contact form or mention below that you’d like to make an official post, and I’ll take five posts and make them each a daily post next week. Those posts will show up in the feed readers and email boxes of all the subscribers to my blog, it’s your chance to step on the platform and give voice to your concerns, my ears, and others are listening. If you drive an SUV, or wear Nike shoes, or drink lattes daily, the floor is yours. If you don’t believe in Jesus, or you do believe in Santa Claus and presents, the floor is yours. If you just wanted to finally have a chance to speak your mind to me, the floor is yours. And you have my word, I’ll do my best to listen and learn.

10 Things You Can Do To Help End Tennessee’s Death Penalty

Despite clear and convincing evidence that Philip Workman did not fire the bullet that killed Lt. Ronald Oliver, Workman was executed early yesterday morning. In the end, the courts rejected Workman’s challenge to Tennessee’s new execution protocols and Workman went to his death without the full facts of the case ever being given a full and fair hearing. Any argument that Tennesseans can rely on the capital punishment system to provide fair, just, and accurate outcomes died with Workman at 1:38 am yesterday morning. Not content with executing Workman, the Attorney General’s office has requested that execution dates be set for the four men whose executions were stayed during the Governor’s 90-day moratorium, E.J. Harbison, Pervis Payne, Mika’eel Abdullah Abdus-Samad, and Daryl Holton. These men could face execution in as little as a week. But now, even as we mourn, this is the time to rededicate ourselves to bringing an end, once and for all, to executions in our state. Changes are made by ordinary people taking small tasks upon themselves to achieve great things. So choose one (or even two or three) of the actions below and help our state move away from vengeance, violence, and killing.

1. Attend your local TCASK Chapter meeting or contact the state office to start a local chapter

2. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper about why Tennessee doesn’t need the death penalty

3. Get a friend to sign up for the TCASK mailing list

4. Write to your state representatives about why you oppose the death penalty

5. Gather moratorium petitions from 5 small businesses and organizations in your neighborhood

6. Talk to you pastor about engaging your church in the death penalty issue

7. Host a house party

8. Volunteer in the TCASK office

9. Bring a TCASK skills training (public speaking, lobbying, or strategic planning) to your local group

10. Make a donation to TCASK – it’s easy just click here.

I would also recommend you subscribe to the TCASK blog or newsletter yourself if you haven’t already.

Flash Back: A Podcast on Simple Living and the Poverty Line

I reposted about this topic in December, but I wanted to highlight the podcast, which I think is worth a listen. A while ago I chatted with my friend Nate about simple living and some discussion we had had on our blogs and others comments. It was quite interesting.

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For the original post, On Simple Living and living “a dollar above” the poverty line

The Easter Bunny is Real and Other Nonsense

It’s Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, a holy day to many, a day for chocolate and presents for many more. I’ve been thinking for a while about what I wanted to say about today. I’m well aware that not everyone who comes across my writings here believes in God, nor do many believe in the Bible or Jesus Christ in any way as authorities. I’ve appreciated those who have stuck around and interacted with me despite my off-the-wall radicalism and extremism at times, and have taught me many things I would not have been able to see myself. I’ve been trying to think of what brilliant thing I could say to allow me to acknowledge my belief in the resurrection without being written off as a complete fool and a loony.

Whether you or I believe in the Easter Bunny or not, in no way affects whether an Easter bunny really exists. Someone said they found Jesus’ bones a few months ago, but whether you or I believe it has no effect whatsoever on whether they really are ‘Jesus’ bones’ or not. There are some things, such as the Easter bunny, that you and I could examine the evidence, and more then likely come to an agreement on a belief, and if I continued to disagree with you, you might say I’m nonsensical. We might also be able to examine the evidence concerning the Tomb of Jesus that was discovered, but if we come to different conclusions, it is probably not fair to write each other off as nonsensical in the same way that we did concerning the Easter Bunny.

I will be the first to admit that there are a great many things that I currently believe that are wrong. I recognize I am a flawed human being, and that is why this post is not a structural argument for why you should believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s also not an attempt to say that that idea is nonsense. I think my point is to say that I believe there is truth out there and we are all wandering travelers on a search for that truth. You might think it is nonsense that I believe I have found truth in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, but that’s okay, because I’m willing to believe it is nonsense too. You might say the impact this belief system has had on my life is all psychological, and I’m willing to believe that might be true as well (though at the moment I disagree).
I don’t intend to come across in any way as relativistic. I believe there is absolute truth. In the same way that there is a truth concerning gravity, there is also a truth concerning whether Jesus Christ rose again or is dead and buried somewhere. I’m not sure what that truth is, as a finite and flawed being I’m not sure I’ll ever have an exact answer to that. And I can understand anyone’s critique of my beliefs, because they to do not see conclusive evidence to prove one way or the other.

If you remember anything from this rambling remember this:
Truth exist.

Flash Back: A look at Romans 13

A while ago I wrote a series of posts “Thoughts on War.” It mainly involved an on going conversation with Brian (glad to have you back).
Below is a brief take of mine on the famously referenced Romans 13 from, Let the discussion begin:

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
This is the first verse of the primary passage I hear cited in reference to why we should support the war. The argument I think is that quite simply God has put our president in place and therefore if our governing authorities call for something we should submit (support) it. To a large degree I find no disagreement with this argument. The struggle with this type of thinking for me comes when I start to think about who “Everyone” entails. That means an Iraqi Christian, if called to join the armed forces under Saddam, should join, and support the cause of the governing authority above him. That means the Nazi German soldier’s where simply following this same Scriptural reasoning when they begin killing the Jews. That means if the authorities in this country have deemed abortion as an acceptable practice, Christians should stop protesting Abortion Clinics and instead should be supporting them.

What followed (and preceded) was an ongoing discussion entitled, Thoughts on War.

Flash Back: Considering Church

A great series I enjoyed writing that I wish I continued was about the church. And it started with this post, Why a Building?:

I think my initial hesitation about the whole building thing came when the church building craze started my last year of high school. My church decided we need to add a $2.5 million addition on to our building. I didn’t realize we were outgrowing the original building in the first place, and now they wanted to add on. And in adding on they wanted it to look really nice, which is understandable since the current building looked quite nice. But I thought to myself $2.5 million is a whole lot of money, and it just doesn’t seem necessary.
Little did I know over the next few years practically every church I went to was doing a building campaign. Some of them really needed it, others I wasn’t so sure. We attended one church for a while and then they started a building campaign for a second building and they where putting an indoor waterfall in it. That was it, I was gone.

Then at some point I started thinking… Why the heck do we need a building anyways? I mean we all live somewhere, why don’t we meet in our homes? It seemed to me that’s mostly what the early church did. I mean, it’s true we couldn’t all pack in to hear the really good preachers, but since when is that what it’s all about? Some would say that’s what small groups are for, to meet in smaller communities in our homes and stuff (I’ll address this later).

I’m not saying church buildings don’t have a purpose, I’ve just started questioning if they are really necessary at all. I mean is it feasible to do the things we do in a church building in our homes instead? And what about bigger events? Is it possible to do those in a place other than our own building?

One of my main concerns about the building is that seems to be all we spend our money on, or talk about spending our money on. The main time you hear about making tithing pledges in most churches it seems is usually related to a building campaign. And then the church goes into debt to purchase the new building before they even have all the money.

That was just a rant of sorts, I really should fine tune it a bit, but there it is raw.

The conversation that began from that post was great and it continued into a brief series entitled, Considering Church.

Flash Back: Do Not Resist… Further Discussion

A while back I entered into a great discussion on the topic of war and pacifism. It sort of fizzled out, but the dialog is still there to continue. I think Brain has since left the readership of this blog, but maybe a comment or two will stir him back. Below is a quote from the blog post I wrote, but please stop by the old one to read the further discussion on the topic of Do Not Resist…

38″You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[g] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. -Matthew 5:38-42

The idea of not resisting an evil person has got to be the most counter cultural concept I had heard in a long time. We’d certainly heard the “turn the other cheek” passage, but usually it’d been flaunted as a weak and cowardly thing to do to avoid further punishment. Growing up I can only think of one example of this being carried out in real life: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement. I later learned about Gandhi, Mandela, and others, but initially I had heard of nothing but the occasional reference to the Civil Rights movement. It’s no wonder I and many others didn’t take this passage seriously at all.

Read further comments on the topic of Do Not Resist…

Request This Book: The Profane Conspiracy

The Profane ConspiracyIn the Month of November, my friend Zach Swee wrote a fiction book, The Profane Conspiracy. I ordered a copy and read it within 24 hours. I’m biased, because Zach is a wonderful friend, but I think it is a great book. Here’s the brief synopsis:

Explore what happens when God touches people’s lives and brings them together to do His work. Nothing is impossible for those who follow His call. This is the story of two young men, Jon, a high school dropout living on the streets, and Chris, a committed Christian who always has a smile on his face. When God brings them into each other’s lives, anything can happen.

Now, I think you should all read this book and I’ve got a brilliant way for you to do it. Zach self-published this book, which is a really neat opportunity technology has provided us. It also means that it’s going to take a little work on our part to get the book distributed. This won’t cost you a penny, it will just take a few moments of your time. I want to make sure a copy of Zach’s book, The Profane Conspiracy, is available at the Nashville Public Libraries. And here’s what I’m hoping you can do to help…

Click this link to Request a Book at the Nashville Public Library.
Enter this information:

Author: Zach Swee
Title: The Profane Conspiracy
Publisher: LuLu Publishing, 2007
Where you saw this item mentioned:

You don’t have to enter any barcode info, just hit submit. And if your really interested in helping, request the book at your own local library. Let’s spread the word!

What about the Children?

I found this article, about a town not to far from the town I went to college in, a place where there are supposedly a lot of practicing Christians…

From Daily Southtown: Residents oppose shelter for immigrant children

The children rarely leave the federal immigrant shelter, a former nursing home near the city’s lakefront that houses undocumented children found alone in the United States.

Teachers and doctors are brought to them. And aside from occasional field trips or visits to a nearby park, the children spend almost all their time indoors — although it may be months before they know whether they will be deported or allowed to stay.

But plans to provide more room by converting a 2.5-acre estate near Naperville — with an 11,000-square-foot house, tennis court and swimming pool — into a first-of-its-kind shelter for undocumented Indian and Chinese children hit a snag:

Neighbors in wealthy Lisle Township don’t want them.

They say the shelter, which would house as many as 30 children, could create traffic problems, lower property values and strain water and sewer services.

But some also worry that the children could escape and pose a threat to their own children. A flier circulated throughout the neighborhood said the shelter would be “WORSE than a halfway house!”