Sunday, July 30, 2006


Obsession with land is idolatry: and the Ten Commandments say: "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me." I think Israel's obsession with their land is getting in the way of God's true purpose Israel's greatness does not lie in land. They can't see the forest for the trees.

Zionism is not true Judaism. It is a political land grab that may not have been the best choice for the nation of Israel. The Israelis are a nation with or without that piece of land. Life is more than material or geographical position.

Who would want to be in a arid land surrounded by enemies, when one's birthright is a spiritually powerful nation?

If Israel would spiritually "let go" and let God, meaning cease fighting everyone and everything, they would start a chain reaction -- a great sigh of relief.

This does not mean leave the land or give back land. It means "let go" metaphysically. Whenever I surrender my fighting, my pent up resentment, my whole life changes for the better.

The serenity prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

The world stops fighting you when you stop fighting it.

Disowning Conservative Politics Is Costly for Pastor

Blessings to a brave Christian who woke up and realized the truth. Of course he will be persecuted for it.

Please read this amazing article below or linked here: Disowning Conservative Politics Is Costly for Pastor

“America wasn’t founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.

“I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

Mr. Boyd lambasted the “hypocrisy and pettiness” of Christians who focus on “sexual issues” like homosexuality, abortion or Janet Jackson’s breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. He said Christians these days were constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public.

“Those are the two buttons to push if you want to get Christians to act,” he said. “And those are the two buttons Jesus never pushed.”

Here is the entire article from the New York Times:

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (July 30) -- Like most pastors who lead thriving evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd was asked frequently to give his blessing -- and the church's -- to conservative political candidates and causes.

The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?

After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”

Mr. Boyd says he is no liberal. He is opposed to abortion and thinks homosexuality is not God’s ideal. The response from his congregation at Woodland Hills Church here in suburban St. Paul -- packed mostly with politically and theologically conservative, middle-class evangelicals -- was passionate. Some members walked out of a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members.

But there were also congregants who thanked Mr. Boyd, telling him they were moved to tears to hear him voice concerns they had been too afraid to share.

“Most of my friends are believers,” said Shannon Staiger, a psychotherapist and church member, “and they think if you’re a believer, you’ll vote for Bush. And it’s scary to go against that.”

Sermons like Mr. Boyd’s are hardly typical in today’s evangelical churches. But the upheaval at Woodland Hills is an example of the internal debates now going on in some evangelical colleges, magazines and churches. A common concern is that the Christian message is being compromised by the tendency to tie evangelical Christianity to the Republican Party and American nationalism, especially through the war in Iraq.

At least six books on this theme have been published recently, some by Christian publishing houses. Randall Balmer, a religion professor at Barnard College and an evangelical, has written “Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America -- an Evangelical’s Lament.”
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And Mr. Boyd has a new book out, “The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church,” which is based on his sermons.

“There is a lot of discontent brewing,” said Brian D. McLaren, the founding pastor at Cedar Ridge Community Church in Gaithersburg, Md., and a leader in the evangelical movement known as the “emerging church,” which is at the forefront of challenging the more politicized evangelical establishment.

“More and more people are saying this has gone too far -- the dominance of the evangelical identity by the religious right,” Mr. McLaren said. “You cannot say the word ‘Jesus’ in 2006 without having an awful lot of baggage going along with it. You can’t say the word ‘Christian,’ and you certainly can’t say the word ‘evangelical’ without it now raising connotations and a certain cringe factor in people.

“Because people think, ‘Oh no, what is going to come next is homosexual bashing, or pro-war rhetoric, or complaining about ‘activist judges.’ ”

Mr. Boyd said he had cleared his sermons with the church’s board, but his words left some in his congregation stunned. Some said that he was disrespecting President Bush and the military, that he was soft on abortion or telling them not to vote.

“When we joined years ago, Greg was a conservative speaker,” said William Berggren, a lawyer who joined the church with his wife six years ago. “But we totally disagreed with him on this. You can’t be a Christian and ignore actions that you feel are wrong. A case in point is the abortion issue. If the church were awake when abortion was passed in the 70’s, it wouldn’t have happened. But the church was asleep.”

Mr. Boyd, 49, who preaches in blue jeans and rumpled plaid shirts, leads a church that occupies a squat block-long building that was once a home improvement chain store.

The church grew from 40 members in 12 years, based in no small part on Mr. Boyd’s draw as an electrifying preacher who stuck closely to Scripture. He has degrees from Yale Divinity School and Princeton Theological Seminary, and he taught theology at Bethel College in St. Paul, where he created a controversy a few years ago by questioning whether God fully knew the future. Some pastors in his own denomination, the Baptist General Conference, mounted an effort to evict Mr. Boyd from the denomination and his teaching post, but he won that battle.

He is known among evangelicals for a bestselling book, “Letters From a Skeptic,” based on correspondence with his father, a leftist union organizer and a lifelong agnostic -- an exchange that eventually persuaded his father to embrace Christianity.

Mr. Boyd said he never intended his sermons to be taken as merely a critique of the Republican Party or the religious right. He refuses to share his party affiliation, or whether he has one, for that reason. He said there were Christians on both the left and the right who had turned politics and patriotism into “idolatry.”

He said he first became alarmed while visiting another megachurch’s worship service on a Fourth of July years ago. The service finished with the chorus singing “God Bless America” and a video of fighter jets flying over a hill silhouetted with crosses.

“I thought to myself, ‘What just happened? Fighter jets mixed up with the cross?’ ” he said in an interview.

Patriotic displays are still a mainstay in some evangelical churches. Across town from Mr. Boyd’s church, the sanctuary of North Heights Lutheran Church was draped in bunting on the Sunday before the Fourth of July this year for a “freedom celebration.” Military veterans and flag twirlers paraded into the sanctuary, an enormous American flag rose slowly behind the stage, and a Marine major who had served in Afghanistan preached that the military was spending “your hard-earned money” on good causes.

In his six sermons, Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others -- by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars.

Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others — “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.

“America wasn’t founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.

“I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

Mr. Boyd lambasted the “hypocrisy and pettiness” of Christians who focus on “sexual issues” like homosexuality, abortion or Janet Jackson’s breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. He said Christians these days were constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public.

“Those are the two buttons to push if you want to get Christians to act,” he said. “And those are the two buttons Jesus never pushed.”

Some Woodland Hills members said they applauded the sermons because they had resolved their conflicted feelings. David Churchill, a truck driver for U.P.S. and a Teamster for 26 years, said he had been “raised in a religious-right home” but was torn between the Republican expectations of faith and family and the Democratic expectations of his union.

When Mr. Boyd preached his sermons, “it was liberating to me,” Mr. Churchill said.

Mr. Boyd gave his sermons while his church was in the midst of a $7 million fund-raising campaign. But only $4 million came in, and 7 of the more than 50 staff members were laid off, he said.

Mary Van Sickle, the family pastor at Woodland Hills, said she lost 20 volunteers who had been the backbone of the church’s Sunday school.

“They said, ‘You’re not doing what the church is supposed to be doing, which is supporting the Republican way,’ ” she said. “It was some of my best volunteers.”

The Rev. Paul Eddy, a theology professor at Bethel College and the teaching pastor at Woodland Hills, said: “Greg is an anomaly in the megachurch world. He didn’t give a whit about church leadership, never read a book about church growth. His biggest fear is that people will think that all church is is a weekend carnival, with people liking the worship, the music, his speaking, and that’s it.”

In the end, those who left tended to be white, middle-class suburbanites, church staff members said. In their place, the church has added more members who live in the surrounding community — African-Americans, Hispanics and Hmong immigrants from Laos.

This suits Mr. Boyd. His vision for his church is an ethnically and economically diverse congregation that exemplifies Jesus’ teachings by its members’ actions. He, his wife and three other families from the church moved from the suburbs three years ago to a predominantly black neighborhood in St. Paul.

Mr. Boyd now says of the upheaval: “I don’t regret any aspect of it at all. It was a defining moment for us. We let go of something we were never called to be. We just didn’t know the price we were going to pay for doing it.”

His congregation of about 4,000 is still digesting his message. Mr. Boyd arranged a forum on a recent Wednesday night to allow members to sound off on his new book. The reception was warm, but many of the 56 questions submitted in writing were pointed: Isn’t abortion an evil that Christians should prevent? Are you saying Christians should not join the military? How can Christians possibly have “power under” Osama bin Laden? Didn’t the church play an enormously positive role in the civil rights movement?

One woman asked: “So why NOT us? If we contain the wisdom and grace and love and creativity of Jesus, why shouldn’t we be the ones involved in politics and setting laws?”

Mr. Boyd responded: “I don’t think there’s a particular angle we have on society that others lack. All good, decent people want good and order and justice. Just don’t slap the label ‘Christian’ on it.”

Saturday, July 29, 2006


There is a way to pray that can change the world. But it is the kind of prayer that sees no solid substance in evil; no duality. I have experienced the power of this kind of prayer — seeing only the good, and not believing with my senses or buying into the mortal belief in evil — and my entire life has been transformed. Prayer really does change things in the physical world. I will be writing about this in detail in the coming weeks. This might sound silly, but there is a quick fix when you find yourself depressed or sick with anxiety. Lately, whenever I'm distressed over world affairs or things I can't control, I look at a photo of Sedona! We took the kids there for Spring break this year and fell in love with its majestic serenity. You can choose any beautiful place or face and meditate on it. Or you can choose a pleasant memory. This change of thought is a form of discipline that actually transforms your reality. I sometimes see the eyes of my child or Christ's gentle touch. Actually, picture what you think LOVE would look like, if love were a tangible entity. Sometimes unconditional love disguises itself as a dog! I am being very simplistic, but I find that the less we complicate our crises and the less dogma involved in prayer, the quicker we can leap out of depression and fear. The only thing we have is the moment we are in right now. And the sky isn't falling. There is love all around you. LOOK. GRAB IT, BREATHE IT IN. THANK THE STARS.

My entire temperature changes when I look at Sedona, because that is where my family experienced the most peaceful time in our lives. We don't know how it happened, but this is the one place where we stopped fighting. We spent an entire day not even talking, just playing in a creek and climbing rocks. God is where your heart is. We must all strive to be peacemakers in our own lives, love our neighbor as ourself, and think of others' first. If we all practice the Golden Rule, the whole world will change.

In this article, they are saying that these days everything is so upside down, we act as if killing is actually new or radical. "Radical islam" or radicalism is actually old and tired. What will change the world is radical prayer: complete reliance on God, good. Contrary to what the "Christian" warmongers want to believe, Christ was very firm in his teachings: never fight your enemies. Bless them.

Radical thoughts versus thoughtful radicals
Walter Rodgers

After handling several reporting assignments in Iraq in recent years, I am convinced that the “new religious radicalism” that is gripping parts of the Middle East is a bit misleading. It is neither new nor radical. Besides, against the backdrop of the past thousand years, current terms such as “radical Islam” and “Islamist radicals” are less than helpful, and sometimes inaccurate.

The violence that we moderns associate with Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda, and militant Islam has been the standard fare in that region for a thousand years. And the violence has not by any means been the exclusive province of Islam then or now.

In 1098 ad, during the First Crusade, Christian knights from France razed the Syrian city of Ma’arra and wiped out Muslim men, women, and children. Later, when these same Christian knights went on to conquer Jerusalem, they boasted that they rode into the city through Muslim blood. Many in the region today, fairly or unfairly, see the current violence as being imposed by foreign military occupation.

Thoughtful radicals are challenging the cycle of violence with prayer.

And what is perhaps most undervalued in the Middle East today is a genuinely radical theology practiced by thoughtful radicals willing to challenge the cycle of violence with confident prayer that refuses to accept killing as indigenous, inevitable, or natural.

Nearly two thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul was at least as familiar with the region’s blood feuds and tribal treacheries as anyone today. He walked through all of it every day. Yet he saw beyond the violence and was able to declare, “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” He went further, boldly seeing beyond tribal differences: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Paul’s radical theology was based on the even more revolutionary theology of Jesus that does not sanction holy wars, crusades, or jihads. It is a theology that is the antithesis of violence.

Jesus called on us to pray for those we perceive as enemies.

Jesus declared, “But I say to all of you who will listen to me: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who treat you spitefully.” He called on each of us to pray for those perceived to be enemies.

Try though we may, there is no intellectual wiggle room in Jesus’ words. Exceptions were not made then, and are not allowed now—even if Israelis have stolen your patrimony, your father’s house in Ramla, or killed your son with a “rubber bullet” in Ramallah. Or if Palestinians blew up your beloved daughter or wife on a bus in Jerusalem. Or even if US soldiers forced indignities upon your family when they searched your house in Baghdad.

Today, when we are tempted to say, “Yeah, but they don’t think like that” or “They don’t think like we do,” we need to remind ourselves that Paul insisted we are all children of God. What matters most is not how they think, but how we think.

Exercise your right to be spiritually radical—to pray.

Imagine yourself as a journalist or civilian contract employee in Iraq, and that you have been kidnapped, blindfolded, and threatened with execution. Would you not instantly exercise your right to be spiritually radical, your right to pray—especially if someone were holding a knife at your throat or a gun at your head?

What could be more radical than seeing your assailant as Paul did—as a child of God? That is the kind of prayer that causes the haters to put down their knives and guns.

Christ Jesus set the ultimate standard for the spiritual radicalism that changes the world. At his crucifixion he prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” His demonstration also proved that we don’t have to be crucified because we practice his radical theology of loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Mary Baker Eddy once wrote: “The Christian Scientist cherishes no resentment; he knows that that would harm him more than all the malice of his foes.” And then she added: “I say it with joy,—no person can commit an offense against me that I cannot forgive. Meekness is the armor of a Christian, his shield and his buckler” (Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 19).

This is the real, radical theology. It blesses all who practice it, because with nothing to forgive, there ceases to be any destructive sense of victimization, which drives the violence.

Reprinted from the August 7, 2006, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.
Radical thinking:

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy:
King James Bible:
Gal. 3:26-28
Luke 6:27,28
Luke 23:34