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The FAX of Life~from Rubel Shelly. Empty Re: The FAX of Life~from Rubel Shelly.

Post  Admin on Sun 05 Jun 2011, 7:12 pm

The FAX of Life
Title: I Knew Jesus before He Was a Christian . . .
Date: For the Week of May 16, 2011
I've just completed a book you might want to read. Its title is I Knew Jesus
before He Was a Christian . . . and I Liked Him Better Then. Yes, the title
is meant to get your attention. But it is also meant to be a very serious
statement.
The Jesus one meets in the Gospels is humble and appealing, engaging and
life-transforming. He is God among us who rescues, heals, and empowers. But
something
happened in the fourth century that changed everything. The Roman Emperor
Constantine took control of the church and morphed the Body of Christ into a
hierarchical institution that looked more like a government or a business.
From that time forward, people have had to form their opinions of a warm and
generous Jesus through their experiences of an often-imperious church. Thus
it has come about that the greatest single cause of atheism in the world is
a church that has been at various times materialistic, acquisitive, racist,
predatory, sexist, homophobic, and otherwise incongruous in character to its
founder.
Contrary to the advice of one cynic who cried "If you love Jesus, burn the
church!", my appeal is for the church to find ways to connect with Jesus.
Identify
with Jesus. Reform itself into Jesus' image. Become what it was at first.
The Christian religion simply is not serving the spiritual lives of people
very well these days. If you doubt that claim, perhaps you should know that
the
fastest-growing segment of religious affiliation these days is neither
Catholic, Protestant, Jew, nor Muslim but "None." The report was titled
"American
Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population." Yet only 7% say they are
atheists.
My hunch is that some - if not most of these no-religion people - are
anything but men and women running away from God but persons who see church
as too
bland, too tame, too unlike their titular founder. They are looking for a
challenge to their faith that is worthy of being associated with Jesus
Christ.
My fear is that what we have come to call Christianity has blurred our
vision of Jesus. If that is true, we need to dig beneath the debris of
religious
rituals and conventions that have accumulated over centuries to reclaim and
live the vibrant gospel that turned the world upside down - and could do so
yet again.
I knew Jesus before he was a (post-Constantine, big-shot, uppity,
privileged, hypercritical, disparaging, dismissive) Christian. It was back
in the days
that he was a servant to servants and said we could find God in that sort of
simplicity. It was when he stepped between rock-throwers and guilty-as-sin
people about to be stoned by them. It was in the times that he laughed, went
to parties, held babies, touched blind people, hung out with outcasts, and
otherwise showed humans the true nature of God. That God is love. That God
is decent and holy, without being priggish about it. And I liked him better
then!
If you get a chance to read the book, I would welcome your feedback.
To purchase the book
click here.
For back issues and other resources please visit
www.RubelShellycom
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The FAX of Life~from Rubel Shelly. Empty Re: The FAX of Life~from Rubel Shelly.

Post  Admin on Wed 13 Apr 2011, 11:00 am

Title: Your Pain and God's Love

Date: For the Week of February 28, 2011

There is a strange but predictable thing that happens in the human mind
during hard times and crises. It is something of a spiritual calculus that
ties
the ratio of divine love to human suffering. By all human calculation, the
greater my comfort with life, the greater my certainty that God knows and
loves
me; the greater my pain and struggle, the less confident I am that he cares
about me.

But that's all wrong. Human circumstance has never been a reliable index
either to one's spiritual status or her value to God.

For more than a dozen years, Joseph was either a slave or a prisoner in a
country where he had no civil rights or legal protection. By the calculus of
our
time and place, anything beyond a few days or weeks of suffering would be
taken as solid proof that God had abandoned Joseph.

Job lost his children, fortune, health, and friends. By the rule of inverse
ratio between divine love and human comfort, God had forgotten that good
man.
A faith-filled prayer should have healed him. That it didn't would be taken
as incontrovertible evidence for God's failure in Job's life, if not for his
nonexistence.

Tamar was raped. Samson was betrayed by a woman he tried to trust. Ruth's
husband died, and she had to fend for herself in a hostile culture. An
unnamed
man in John 9 was born blind. Prophets were put in dungeons, thrown to wild
animals, and forced to watch their children be murdered.

If the relationship between divine concern and human comfort really holds,
not one person in the paragraph above was the object of God's love.

For that matter, what would you think of a child born before his parents had
been married nine months, shuttled from pillar to post during infancy, and
forced to grow up under circumstances that would haunt him for his entire
life? Then suppose he died young - the victim of an unjust legal system? If
the
alignment of God's love and our good fortune are necessary to faith, Jesus
should have renounced the whole spiritual enterprise.

The point of all this is that the world's calculus is wrong. Or perhaps the
point is that you and I must be on guard against thinking the world's way.
Otherwise,
we get drawn into the trap of citing our woes as the justification for
unbelief.

There is absolutely no correlation between your circumstance today and God's
faithful love. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, your situation may be
only a period of discipline prior to entering the Promised Land. Like Paul's
thorn in the flesh, it may be your invitation to experience God's grace at
a deeper level.

"What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us
later" (Romans 8:18 NLT).

For back issues and other resources please visit
www.RubelShelly.com
Follow our blog -
http://faxoflifebyrubelshelly.blogspot.com/

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The FAX of Life~from Rubel Shelly. Empty Re: The FAX of Life~from Rubel Shelly.

Post  Admin on Sun 20 Mar 2011, 10:55 am

The FAX of Life

Title: Romantic Faith

The two words don't often get put together - romance and faith.

I think we tend to hear the word romance of relationships in blossom. So we
speak of a friend who is in a romantic relationship. We even use the word in
verbal formulations to talk of someone who is "romancing" or "being
romanced."

On the other hand, faith seems to have connotations of either a religious
experience (i.e., a life of faith) or an identifiable set of beliefs (i.e.,
the
Christian faith as opposed to the Muslim or Buddhist faith).

Maybe we should work to bring these terms into proximity. My personal
opinion is that both would be blessed at the end of the process.

Have you noticed how many people are declaring their rejection of religion
nowadays? They point to tribal divisions, arrogance, and judgments passed
not
only by Christians against non-Christians but within the larger Christian
camp. Protestants damn Catholics; Catholics consign Protestant to hell. Then
come the equally harsh judgments by sub-groups within each major set -
Baptists against Episcopalians, Pentecostals hostile to Methodists, Churches
of
Christ judging the Presbyterians. And the judgments go the other direction
with equal severity.

Maybe all this traces to the fact that we have turned a Jew's teachings into
those of a Greek and thereby confused faithfulness with a spirit of
condemnation.

The Greek view of reality, meaning, and truth demands rational explanation.
So Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle set the agenda of defining and explaining
things to the mind. The goal was to put explanations into claims that could
be worded precisely, studied in minute detail, and debated for
ever-increasing
clarity. On that view, truth is static and inflexible, focuses on "essences"
deemed more real than day-to-day experiences, and is often deemed cold and
impersonal.

The Hebrew idea is not necessarily hostile to definitions and the attempt to
figure out how ideas and words correspond to the world we encounter. But it
is more fundamentally about value, function, and relationship. Thus God
himself is Truth. His words are "living and active" - dynamic, not static.
God's
word ultimately became flesh in Jesus and is meant to be enfleshed by his
followers. Thus truth is more a matter of right relationship with God and
neighbor
than definitions and dogma by which we judge each other - and sever
relationships.

Pilate's "What is truth?" was more a category mistake than anything else and
better would have been cast as "Who is truth?" But he was a Greek-speaking,
Greek-thinking Roman bureaucrat, not a son of Israel. God is truth. So the
one who is simultaneously the Way, Life, and Truth was before him
unrecognized.

Being a Christ-follower is thus more a journey into unknown places, a
process of ongoing transformation, or a romance than a seminary lecture. The
time
is long past due to allow faith to be a love affair rather than a war of
words.

"The Word became flesh and lived among us . . ." (John 1:14).
For back issues and other resources please visit
www.RubelShelly. com
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The FAX of Life is a free weekly service from Rubel Shelly.
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The FAX of Life~from Rubel Shelly. Empty The FAX of Life~from Rubel Shelly.

Post  Admin on Sun 06 Mar 2011, 12:03 pm

The FAX of Life

Title: The Examined Life

Date: For the Week of January 31, 2011

The ancient challenge "Know yourself!" is as relevant now as when it was
chiseled into the marble at Delphi. Challenged by it, Socrates dared to walk
the
streets of Athens and say, "The unexamined life is not worth living."

If it was tough or - as for Socrates - dangerous duty to hurl the challenge
in antiquity, it is no easier today. We are incredibly busy. We board
planes,
fill our calendars, and deplete our energies. We pay bills, shuttle our
kids, and attend the funerals of our friends. When we do "take some time
off" or
get a break, we try to pack in too much with too many in too big a hurry.
Think about your recent Christmas experience! When we get back, we joke
about
needing time to recover from the vacation. But we seldom take the time to
sit and ponder. To reflect. To examine ourselves. To ask God if we are on a
meaningful
life path.

Ever wonder why Jesus would occasionally get up early in the morning and
slip away into the countryside? He wasn't running from his followers or
trying
to escape his personal sense of mission. He was staying true to his mission
by clarifying it to himself in those special times of musing, prayer, and
focus.

While some theologies preserve the idea, very few of us take seriously the
notion that life cannot be other than it is. God isn't writing a script with
you as a passive pencil in his hand. You are the co-author of your life
story, and you can be a good writer - sensitive to plot, catching the
subtleties
of the storyline, and building to a final chapter that brings things
together in a meaningful way.

If that's the outcome you want, you have to pay attention to the narrative
you are generating. If you wonder to yourself or have to apologize to others
that you don't know why you said that or still can't figure out why you did
something so out of character, maybe you've slipped into a role without
realizing
it. You've become bitter or distant or angry. You've withdrawn or run away
or butted in. In any case, a that's-just- not-me alibi may be wearing thin
for
all parties concerned.

Don't let the circumstances dictate your identity. Know yourself. Then
decide how you and God need to respond to the circumstance. You are not
"fated" or
"destined" to fail, collapse, be miserable, make others miserable, be thrown
under the bus, or otherwise fall victim to life. You can choose. If not a
new path, you can choose a new attitude for traveling the path before you.

This damaged creation is on its way to being created anew. That means the
script is subject to editing. The final curtain hasn't fallen. You and God
have
the option of working together to rework the ending.

As Yahweh told the Covenant People during a time of darkness in Babylon:
"Surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your
welfare
and not your harm, to give you a future with hope" (Jeremiah 29:11 NRSV).

So take stock. Reflect. Know yourself. And know that God always has options.
For back issues and other resources please visit
www.RubelShelly.com
----
The FAX of Life is a free weekly service from Rubel Shelly.
THE PEACE OF GOD*
*By JON D. BEKEMEYER, Pastor *
* *
Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:6,7; Colossians 3: 15

It is important to distinguish between peace with God and the peace of
God. Peace with God is a positional truth resulting from our
justification (being declared righteous) by faith. Our righteous
standing means that the enmity between ourselves and the Lord has been
removed and there is now peace (Romans 5:1). On the other hand, the
peace of God is a practical truth relating to one's personal experience
with the Lord.

A believer may know of his position in Christ and still lack inner
peace. The pressures of society today are very extreme and many
believers are tormented by anxiety and turmoil within. As long as this
continues one can never be all that he should be for the Lord.

The Biblical cure for anxiety is found in Philippians 4:6,7: take
everything to the Lord in prayer and supplication. This verse indicates
that such prayer does not involve meaningless generalities, but specific
requests. The promised result is not the same as that which was promised
to the Twelve in connection with their special enduement with power
("Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do"), but the promise
of peace. The circumstances may not change. The difficulties may not go
away. What we are promised is the peace of God, a peace that is beyond
comprehension.

Lest any reader feel short-changed, we should all reflect on what a
great blessing this is. Though the Lord does not promise to change the
circumstances, He does promise the ability to victoriously endure them.
Truly, "Godliness with contentment is great gain."

*The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to change the people of God.---ODB*

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