This is the story of a collection of people who follow Jesus. We live in Littleton. We encounter people in the name of Jesus, we allow Jesus to turn us into disciples, we gather often, and we equip people to love and serve other people better.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
:-) Oct 19, 2011
Mark Kraakevik – Haha - yes, of course. So make your case. Why should I vote for Obama? I love his speeches, I am not quite as thrilled by some of his policies. And, in general, the country is not doing so great under his watch. Oct 19, 2011
Holly – I understand the frustration folks have about how we are doing. So why are we still in this funk and how did we get here?
Of course, the answers are not simple, but extremely complicated. Anyone who says it is one person's fault (even if they say it's GW's, my favorite villain) is just plain wrong.
Nonetheless, I do believe the policies promoted during the Bush years were hurtful. I was not in support of the war in Iraq, but even if it had been a "good war", it was short-sighted to not make a plan to pay for it. Bush added an amazing amount to our national debt through the war and through tax cuts that went primarily to the better off (thus, those who don't need to spend it immediately and so it didn't go back into the economy as quickly as it would have otherwise).
But of course, Bush didn't come up with all this by himself. De-regulation began with Reagan, I believe, and that contributed greatly to the economic crisis we are now in. The idea pushed for so long (and certainly for Libertarians still is core) was that an unfettered economy would naturally lead to growth and everyone would benefit. Trickle down. Float all boats. Accordingly, we just needed to cut down on (or better, cut out) all these regulations, and Capitalism would prove its merits. This idea was applied to the financial markets as well, and so innovation thrived unhindered, including those mortgage-backed securities that led to the Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis which has become a global problem, making it extremely difficult to get out of this mess quickly.
-- On a lighter note, I just love the Onion article of November 5, 2008: Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job (http://www.theonion.com/articles/black-man-given-nations-worst-job,6439/). --
These are just a few of the ways we got to this position. Clinton isn't blameless either. As I understand it, his administration pushed for every American family to own a home and that policy became the goal rather than a policy that promoted ownership only when it was the best financial decision. Home ownership isn't best in all situations, but facts get in the way of policy sometimes.
Since countries around the world are facing financial crises and we are in a global economy now, no longer insulated as much as we were, I don't see how we can bounce back quickly. What I am looking for is someone who will lead us forward through the storm with policies and plans that support the least among us, for they are certainly the ones who get hit the hardest no matter what kind of storm it is. That seems a lot more Christ-like than making sure the well-off can keep the money in the family after they die or seeing that taxes are low. Jesus made it clear 2000 years ago that he is not interested in tax policy but in people living their lives for God, doing what he says (Mark 12:13-17). And since God has said a whole lot about caring for the poor, that seems to me to be one of his stronger priorities.
Obama is not the savior we so wanted him to be 2008. No one on Earth could single-handedly get us out of this position. He is not pleasing anyone very much. But that is because he is much more moderate than those who enthusiastically supported him in the 2008 election and, I think, demonized by vocal groups on the right. The middle moderates tend not to speak out much nor are they as inclined to vote. So, along with the fact that those in power (extremists more than not) work to stay in power (e.g. redistricting, resisting or changing bills for election reform), we are trapped in a political culture that honors those who draw a line in the sand and refuse to compromise or negotiate. This means little or nothing gets done. Our system is set up with checks and balances which prevent any one branch from running away with power. It also just slows us down at times like this.
Back to your original question: whom to vote for. Looking at all the candidates, I see no one who will lead us out of this mess quickly. The Republicans are offering mostly people who are eagerly courting the Tea Party voters: way too far right (and promoted by Libertarian corporations, e.g. Koch). The Republican candidates are much further to the right than Obama is to the left. Of course, that is not the way the political operators want us to see it, but I think the actions and words clearly bear it out. They have tried to denounce Obama as a Socialist, but his record doesn't bear this out. Mitt Romney might be along the closest to a traditional Republican conservative and therefore more palatable to me than his fellow Republicans, but not better than Obama from what I can see.
I know you are a thoughtful person, open to learning from a variety of opinions. I love that. We may or may not vote the same way, but I am so grateful that you are who you are and that you listen to others, trying to understand a different perspective. It's refreshing.
Give Heidi my love and a big hug! Oct 20, 2011
Mark Kraakevik – I love that you took the time to write this out. This is very insightful. Thank you. I want to copy it and post it on my blog, so others can see it. I am guessing it will not get the attention it deserves here. Would that be ok? Oct 20, 2011
Holly – Sure. Thanks for the confidence booster! Oct 20, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
This next part of the Sermon on the Mount is all about God's law.
Jesus here reminds us that He has a very high view of God Law.
He says He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.
This is an interesting statement. A quick read of the gospels might lead you to believe otherwise. Jesus eats food with his disciples on the sabbath. Jesus touches lepers. He stops religious leaders from stoning a woman caught in adultery. He says, "Neither to I condemn you, go and sin no more."
Some of us when we hear this, forget everything else we know about Jesus, and take this to mean that while Jesus may seem like a friend to sinners, he is in fact "keeping score" and if that is true, we are all in big trouble. The next phrase, rather than alleviating our fears, only makes it worse.
Jesus illustrates the eternality of God's law with a popular story line from contemporary Jewish teachers (5:18). Jesus' smallest letter (NIV), or "jot" (KJV), undoubtedly refers to the Hebrew letter yod, which Jewish teachers said would not pass from the law. They said that when Sarai's name was changed to Sarah, the yod removed from her name cried out from one generation to another, protesting its removal from Scripture, until finally, when Moses changed Oshea's name to Joshua, the yod was returned to Scripture. "So you see," the teachers would say, "not even this smallest letter can pass from the Bible." Jesus makes the same point from this tradition that later rabbis did: even the smallest details of God's law are essential.
Live it or teach it poorly, and you will be called the least in the Kingdom
Live it and teach it well, and you will be called the greatest.
Here we should remember the significance "greatness" has in Jesus' day. We read that the disciples were constantly fighting. And that their ongoing fight was "who is the greatest disciple?" "Which one gets to sit at his right and on his left?
And on several occasions Jesus is quizzed on what he believes to be the "greatest commandment."
To be called great is the World Series MVP award.
Last night, the TExas Rangers won the American League Penant. Nelson Cruz was selected ALCS MVP after his postseason-record sixth home run of the series, and he also had a record 13 RBIs. Young hit a pair of two-run doubles in a nine-run third inning that sent the Rangers on their way to becoming the AL’s first consecutive pennant winner since the New York Yankees won four in a row from 1998-01. Cruz is a great hitter.
Unless your righteousness surpasses the lay leaders and seminary professors -
Can you imagine someone saying, unless you can play baseball better than the Texas Rangers, you will not make it into the kingdom of heaven. What is Jesus taking about?
I would hope that all of us could agree that what Jesus means by this is that we must have genuine heart change. What does that look like?
Zacchaeus is an interesting fellow. When he climbs town that tree, his life completely changes. Everything that was important to him - money, personal safety - no longer matter, because Jesus loves him. He is now free to love others.
Saul, who becomes Paul, is another guy who experiences a complete life change. He is a pharisee that is on his way to evict Christians from their homes when he encounters Jesus (who speaks from heaven). Years later, Paul writes the letter of Galatians. The Christians in Galatia had decided that in order to really be Christian they had to obey all the Old Testament rules. In 2:15, he says, "We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ."
I listened to a sermon by Erwin McManus where he talked about the intersection of Buddism and Christianity. Erwin had met a Buddist who had just read the whole Bible in a week. Erwin McManus asked him what he thought, and he said it made him said. "Why?" "Because if it is true then I have to die and start all over again."
And a few verses later, Paul says, "19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”[d]
Let me see if I can sum this up.
Here at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, he is laying out some basics for us. 1) The Law is eternal, and the no part of the law will ever be compromised. 2) Living, and teaching the Law correctly determines our greatness in the kingdom of heaven. 3) Unless our righteousness surpasses the religious superstars you know, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
This final truth could be said this way, "Only perfect people get to go to heaven."
One begins to understand why sinners like Jesus. Because he put everyone on the same level. Basically this teaching says, "Nobody gets to go." And thus the ones who had made more mistakes no longer felt judged by the ones who had made fewer mistakes.
But it goes deeper than this. Jesus begins the part of his sermon saying that he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill them. To complete them. Jesus came to live the perfect life. And while the religious leaders thought Jesus was breaking the laws, he was in fact fulfilling the law at a level they could not even understand, let alone practice.
Then when Jesus dies on a cross, he is able to take upon himself the sins of the world. He exchanges his perfect life, for our imperfect life, in such a way that who ever believes in Jesus will not perish, but have eternal life. You might say, "only perfect people get in!" And I would say, that is why it is crucial that the life we live now is "in Christ." He declares us righteous, and then gives us the freedom to go and live life in his power.
1) Joy - we are free from the condemnation of the law we could not keep
2) Worship - Jesus died for us, and he alone deserves our worship and adoration
3) Righteousness - what we were previously unable to do, we now can do, because we have the Spirit within us.
Mark Kraakevik of 8776 West Geddes Place, Littleton, CO 80128
Mark can be reached at 720-308-4051
Mark's blog can be found at www.markkraakevik.posterous.com
Mark can be reached at 720-308-4051
Mark's blog can be found at www.markkraakevik.posterous.com