Are we really a nation in unity or am I just telling another lie? Wouldn’t you want the nation to be united? Wouldn’t you want to have a healthy strong country? The fact is we are more united than we realize, if only we did as Jesus said and stop trying to take the speck out of our brothers eye and rather take the plank out of our own.
What does it mean to be Patriotic? The general definition is a person who vigorously supports ones country. In a unique nation such as ours we have a country constructed of the people, for the people. We are more than the land in which we live on, we are team of people who has come together to share in similar values. When you are a member of a team, we should do our best to support our team members. We do this as a country by passing laws in which will help our fellows. Yet in today’s America many of these laws only divide and manipulate the team, for the benefit of the few.
Today in our country we face many issues in which we are letting our teammates and future teammates down. The first being immigration. Good people who are risking life and limb trying to come to this country in the hope of finding safety and freedom. Unlike the immigrants of past days these people are not met with lady liberty. Immigrants are met by men with guns, ripping mothers from their children and placing them in their perspective cages. What kind of a team play is this? Many say they are breaking the law; we are a country of laws, they say. Let me remind you that while we are a country of law, many people are not as fortunate as you or I to be born into this team; many would do anything to be in your position. Tell me about law when you need to risk your life for freedom.
Another issue is healthcare. Even if you have a good job you will pay hundreds of dollars per month to provide healthcare for your family. If we are a team wouldn’t we all want people to have access to health care, especially in a country like ours in which we have the ability to make it happen? Many will say, I had to pay, I have to work, they tell their teammates to get a job you bum, quit working that minimum wage job, that’s for kids. Oh if only it was that easy. Do you think people want to be poor? Do you think people want to be on welfare? Maybe just maybe you could trade places with the waitress serving you while you justify how you can leave a small tip. If I described you, then you suck at being on a team. You suck at being patriotic, never wave an American flag again! You have been benched! In a country such as ours healthcare should be a right not something that is a burden. I would rather my tax dollars go to pay doctors, and build hospitals, not more bombs to drop on tents and camels in the desert.
Let us examine the lie of higher education. We tell our children to get good grades, go to college and become whatever you want to be. I am all for instilling passion into our youth, they are our future. What I cannot understand is going tens of thousands of dollars into debt for a four-year degree in which you may never can use. Many college graduates end up working at a job they hate because they must pay back the student loans for fear of poor credit, so they can drive a Subaru. Don’t get me wrong, I support higher education. I hold a B.S. a M.A. and currently working on an Ed. D. Yet I served in the Army, I earned a considerable amount of money to attend college. Not everyone is given that opportunity. I believe that in a nation such as ours our people should be allotted monies in order to receive at least an associate’s degree or training for a skilled trade. I understand the importance of having some skin in the game. The student should be responsible for some of their tuition. Yet if we the people continue to provide poor salaries and an expensive cost of living, it is only right to help them with their education. Remember this is a team play.
Finally, there is a saying, “money never sleeps.” Corporations in the United States have become modern plantations, and politicians work with these corporations to line their pockets. We have a separation between church and state, but the biggest need in America is a separation between corporations and state. It is the corporations who are dictating the politicians who pass the laws creating a slave state in which the worker is slowly losing their rights like a frog boiling in a slowly heated pot. It is a fascist system without a face, with greed turning the gears of the operation. The current government allows the super elite to continue to rule the country from their boardrooms. Corporations do not care about you or me. People are just commodities bought and sold between each other, buying their livestock at the lowest rate. They make employees feel good offering just enough money to keep the lights on so you will be forced to come back day after day. The lucky ones will have enough left over to enjoy a night out once a week, and the very fortunate are those who have the nice house and car but are drowning in debt, they may seem happy but look closely. They are often in a greater prison, never truly leaving work because they are shackled down with a company phone and laptop. When and if you do “make it” you may have enough money to pay for your nursing home and burial expenses, leaving your children without an inheritance. This is the America we live in. The government says we currently have the lowest unemployment rate in years, yet many workers have gone off the grid or are working part time jobs to keep the lights on, hoping to make it to work every day without getting pulled over because they would rather feed their children instead of buying car insurance. This is the reality we live in, and then we thank God and government that we have jobs all the while we are being robbed. Some people say that the devil’s greatest trick was to get people to believe that he does not exist. I would say next in line is making the people think the government actually cares.
So what does it mean to be patriotic? Patriotism is defined by a person who vigorously supports ones country. This should be clear then to any American. A patriot is not someone who waves a flag and screams “we are a land of laws.” Yes, we are a land of laws, but most importantly the country is only as strong as its people. If we treat our immigrants like criminals in which if you are white you are a decedent of an immigrant. If we do not care for the sick, the poor, and scoff at people working minimum wage jobs just trying to carve out an existence. If you think that education should come with a huge price tag leaving the next generation in debt. If you support the government control by corporations; which enables these entities to force us into servitude. If you think all these things are acceptable and are still waving a flag it is time to re-evaluate your actions because they go against the very definition of patriotism. Put down the flag put on a brown shirt and sing songs about Mussolini because that is what you have become. You are not a part of this team we call the United States, you are either working for the opposition or you are too dumb to figure out you have been duped, either way, get it together, or stay on the bench.
As Christians where is the country? Are we a bunch of closed minded dominionist? People who have it my way or the highway? Absolutist who do not think for themselves? Nate does not have the answers but I do know how to talk about some possibilities. My only hope is that Christians in America are not so willing to sell their souls for political power.
Today is August 21, 2017. The day the United States experienced a solar eclipse. What does this mean for America? What does this mean for you? Is there any significant to this celestial event? Nate explains all that and more on this episode of The Backyard Preacher.
Happy Memorial Day, let us remember those who have since past on who served our country. When was the last war in which our soldiers actually were sent to war to defend this nation? 1812? WWII? certainly not any of the modern conflicts in which rich white men sent our sons and daughters to die for their agenda. Nate talks about this and much more.
Let’s just admit it in the United States right now I have never seen the protestant church more divided since the civil rights movements; which by the way is still going on. I rack my brain on over how we the church of all different flavors can come together regardless of interpretation of scripture, human rules, and dogma in which we place upon ourselves. We cling so hard to these beliefs that we would rather start a civil war than find a way to live in brotherly love with one another. So is it possible to possess a singularity within Christianity? The short easy answer is yes, we already have a singularity; we have Jesus! Yet your Jesus may not be my Jesus, and who is to say which one is right? We could look to the Bible for an answer but through our methods and biases in conducting hermeneutics of scripture meanings change to fit the desire we wish. So let’s face it, a singularity in Christianity is a tall order! Yet it is one we need to at least try to attain. First let me say that this is just a short article to help you expand you mind, this subject could easily be used to write a Ph.D. dissertation which I may consider in the future.
Why are we so divided?
I am not going to do a complete history on the division of the protestant church instead I will look at some issues that divide the church today. This can be a very touchy subject. People become very offended if something within their belief system is questioned. Yet one of my mottos is question everything! First, we are divided by denominations, I have a love hate relationship with denominations. While I believe that denominations certainly have their place they also cause an obvious division. Dozens of Pentecostal/charismatic denominations, mainline denominations as well as small and obscure denominations which all believe they know the will of God. Let us not forget the thousands of non-denominational churches which each hold to their own belief system. I for one love worshiping God in different denominations. I have very few fundamentals within my Christianity so I could be attending a United Church of Christ, Methodist, or many of the flavors of Pentecostalism which I am very fond of, worship God, fellowship with his people, and enjoy the diversity of my brothers and sisters.
With denominations aside let us look at a few other major areas which divide us as a church. LGBT inclusion, refugees, American nationalism, also the obsession with rules based on scriptural interpretation which enter the very core of the adherents; especially anything to do with sex. Their simply seems no room for the old saying “I will have to agree to disagree.” As you know these create the left and right, liberal or conservative world in which we live. Usually those with strict fundamental rules are rightwing conservatives and the “agree to disagree people” are the ones on the left. I do not necessarily claim a side, I do not have all the answers. Nobody does! Why do we need such labels? I for one would be considered a liberal Christian yet I would rather be called a Jesus follower. Then again many think I am a heretic! The thing is what do we really know? Fact is we know very little, trying to package our religion into an all-encompassing system which affects every area of our lives will assuredly lead to conflict. While I may offend some as a Christian preacher I must address what I believe causes the biggest division of all. That is fundamentalism, I am not talking about the basic definition of fundamentalism, that being the virgin birth of Christ, His life, death, and resurrection. In fact those are probably the only fundamentals I will say are absolutely true in faith. I am talking about divisions created based on denominational beliefs about everything from baptism, speaking in tongues, prophecy, psychology, tithing, the inerrancy of scripture and its different variations thereof, the list can go on to eternity. I have seen heated debates over whether a person would go to hell if they were not baptized even if they were a confessing Christian. I thought it was silly but the other guy was dead set on his beliefs. Where did he get them? He was taught them probably from the start of his Christian journey and anything else would be apostasy. Hey I once was a very conservative fundamentalist Christian but then I went to seminary and I learned much about scripture and Jesus that I was never taught in church. I admit I do like to have a good argument but I certainly do not wish to divide a nation. That is what is going on right now, a divided nation over variations of religious beliefs.
Four Major areas of debate amongst Christians
A major issue within the protestant church is LGBT inclusion. As a former fundamentalist I was trained to believe that homosexuality is a sin, along with many other things in a church world obsessed with sex. I find it very interesting that Jesus never once mentioned homosexuality, it is not that he did not know people who were homosexual yet he never mentions it. Jesus does mention sexual immorality, the question is how is sexual immorality defined? Rape, pedophilia, prostitution, these are a few areas of sexual immorality I can think of that the scriptures touch on. Maybe we focus so much on sex because we in fact were created for sex? “Multiply and fill the earth” sex is normal behavior between committed couples. Ellen Page star of the series Gaycation really made it very clear in a world of hate towards the LGBT community she states “Why would anyone choose to be this way?” Well they do not choose, people are born with their orientation. As a Christian I am a believer in ensoulment, I believe that it is very likely that the brain which acts as the antenna for our soul may not be wired to attract the same sex. In fact souls with male orientation may have been placed within a female body and vice versa. I do not want to spend much more time on this issue due to the fact that it could stretch in length more than I wish to write. I do not know all the answers but I do know that this division over sex must be put to an end if we are to see healing and an eventual singularity.
In the news today there is a huge debate over refugees and illegals in the United States, we have just sworn in a new President who is desperate to wall us in and keep others out. Refugees have always been close to the heart of God. There is a vast amount of scriptures that supports the acceptance of refugees in fact the family of Jesus was forced to leave their homeland for Egypt to escape certain death. I have written an article in the past called “No Borders in Paradise” which I encourage you to read. Fact is it is hard to be a Christian if we only use the foreigner for financial gain yet keep them from safety in a time of need. Our country is filled with large overpriced church buildings which could hold millions of foreigners, members of the churches own businesses which could employ these refugees to earn their keep. This country is for everyone, it’s very foundation was established on the freedom of all people and to welcome all people with open arms. Just as Jesus welcomes all we should as followers have our arms opened as well.
As stated above we have a new President who is an American nationalist. His voters are nationalist and a great majority are of the evangelical persuasion. As if this plot of land is more special than any others. I admit I am a globalist, guess what, so is God! American nationalism is causing some of the greatest division within the country and church. We hold to our guns and flags greater than our Bibles and faith. We believe we are superior because of our citizenship and dangle it in front of the faces of the world when they are in need. Yes it is okay to be proud Americans but as the old Sunday school song goes “I am in the Lords Army.” Not the American Army or any other “country” but an Army of Christian soldiers who’s weapons are created from faith and prayer. If we can learn to control are egos, to let go of this idea that America is somehow more special than any other country on earth, to learn to look at the country through the eyes of foreigners we might just decrease some of the division within the church.
Finally I will just briefly touch on the amount of rules each denomination possesses, which probably surpasses the 613 Jewish laws found in the Old Testament. Most rules are based on the interpretation of the New Testament text. For me personally I have found that no rules, no dogma, just Spirit led Christianity is better. There are rules, but no rules when it comes to fellowship as confessing Christians. As I have said many times “we do not know.” We argue and point fingers over logs in our eyes while many of those outside of the church only have splinters. This is not a new phenomenon all you have to do is read the book of Acts to see the division in the church. Yet since the foundation of the church we have had the answer we have had the singularity but we allowed our flesh to get in the way. Remember the “Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
Into Apostasy and the end of the know it all
So let us just embrace apostasy! Wait, what did I just say? Embrace apostasy! Yes the only way to get back to the singularity which can bring all flavors of Christianity back together is to become an apostate. So many pastors do not pastor they command their flock, they teach a message of “this is how it is or else.” Instead of questioning everything we follow like sheep. The blind leading the blind. In my future church plant the only dogma which will be shared is that of confession, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. The belief of the virgin birth, the human/divine nature of Christ his death resurrection and coming return. While that alone can create a lot of debate I believe that these are the basic dogmas of the protestant Christian church. So, let us question everything and learn from one another. “As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.”
So has I have mentioned throughout this article that Jesus is our singularity. Synonymous with Jesus is love. The apostle Paul gives the church in Corinth a wonderfully detailed definition of love. This is found in the New Testament text 1 Corinthians 13. I am not going to copy and paste the text, look it up and read it but here is the verbs that create the verb love. Patient, kindness, modest, humble, does not take advantage of others, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, never delighting in evil, always rejoices with truth, protecting, trusting, hopeful, and persevering, it never fails! This is the definition of love. Okay so let us put the word God or Jesus before each one of these characteristics of love. Now let us put your name before each one of these definitions of love. The difficult part is can we live out love? No we cannot fully live out love, by God’s grace we can do the best we can. Yet we do not even do that. We struggle and fight within ourselves leaving us look like fools to those outside of the church. Our division will never bring more to Christ. The singularity of Christianity is love, but are we humble enough?
Can we be humble enough to be like Jesus?
Only by the grace of God can we actually follow in the footsteps of Jesus. It is only when we decide to let go of our ego, that is forget or at least minimize our predisposed ideas about theology, to throw away the idea that the only type of theology is one in which you were born into, found God in, or what the preachers preach on Sunday! Fellow preachers, church leaders, pastors, and priest be ready to do the same thing. We need to open up a dialogue and broaden our horizons working with each other to bring about Christ within the church. This is not easy, I came to this level of consciousness by observation the politics and arrogance of many of my brothers and sisters whom I love yet allowed me to think about my theological practice. Is this really what it is all about? Is everything absolute? What is truth? What is it that makes us so fundamental to the traditions of our various faith traditions? Many would say basic human programming and fear. Well maybe we need to deconstruct ourselves and leave our fear in the past for to fear is to sin. I honestly do not know if we can come to this singularity here on earth. I do know that prophecy tells us that we will come to this in heaven. Then I can hear it now, “well that is for heaven we must live on earth.” Yes we must live on earth, but we do not have to live like earth when the Kingdom of Heaven is within! I want to continue to write about this subject but I think that you must have the point after over 2000 words. With that I hope that this inspires you to be a person that desires to see the singularity alive and well in the church, to stop the division and bring healing to this land! Amen!
Today Nate talks about what the singularity of Christianity that can bring us all together in unity as Christians, no matter your flavor. We currently live in a divided country with a divided church. The time for unity is now. Listen and receive the guidance you need to live out a life of love and unity.
Brothers and sisters, I first want to say that when I preach, I preach also to myself. I may point fingers yet these fingers are also pointed right back at me. I do not write these words to belittle anyone, but more importantly to encourage you in Christ so that his work may be accomplished through your love and kindness. As we all know the Middle East is war torn and in need of desperate help. We also are aware of the many terrorist which absolutely hate the West and what we stand for. We are saddened by the latest attacks in France yet we must forgive and love, we must not hold bitterness and hate. This is the power of Christianity and what draws people to Christ.
We are now as a country accepting thousands of refugees from war torn Syria. We must remember our commission given to us by the Lord himself. The majority of these people are undoubtedly Muslim and I understand people are fearful yet there is no need to be. Your life is not your own, it was bought with a price and you have been called to be an evangelist. The great commission is still in effect. Instead of having to travel to a war torn environment to share Jesus, we have the opportunity to reach the unsaved with the love and kindness of Christ to those coming to our own backyards. We do not need to fear their culture or convert their way of life, what we need to do is obey the Spirit of God to show love, even if they hate us. Remember while you were still a sinner Christ died for you. We have been extremely blessed in this country. We should look at our blessings as a way in which we can be an blessing to the world. Abraham was blessed as was Israel in order to bring forth the light to the nations (Jesus). So let us do likewise. Do not get me wrong, we are at war with Islam, yet not with the people who profess Islam. We do not need to fight with hate or weapons of war, but with prayer. If we believe the Bible and follow Christ we shouldn’t be concerned but grateful for the upcoming opportunities to serve.
I am saddened by so many on social media who are living in fear of the refugees. So many who claim to be Christian yet I cannot imagine Jesus acting in such a way. I remember the parable of the banquet (Luke 14:15-24) in which a man invited certain people to a great banquet. Yet Those in which the man invited did not come. Because of their refusal the master decided to invite all people, the poor, crippled and lame. Are we refusing to invite those to the banquet of the Lord because of our fears? Are we trying to hold onto our lives that have already been purchased by the blood of Christ? Do we really think we are superior because we are citizens of the United States? I can understand this way of thinking from unbelievers, but it is unacceptable as believers. It is selfish to think of your safety over the salvation of souls. Many missionaries who went to serve overseas packed their belongings in coffins because they knew they would probably not make it back home. Their lives were not anything to hold onto, but like Christ something to give so others may be saved.
I have had the great opportunity to meet with many wonderful Muslim men and women in the Quad Cities. These men and women live in the projects as refugees from the Middle East. I have been able to freely place Bibles into their hands only because they were here. I could not have done this safely in the Middle East. I have seen dozens of children with smiles on their faces because Christians went to these same refugees to simply be a friend and give them an afternoon of joy. These children may always remember these acts of kindness and instead of being bitter they may grow to love. This is right here in my hometown. I am sure there are projects housing refugees all over the United States, and there will soon be many more. Such a great opportunity to be a missionary without even leaving the city!
Yes I understand the very real possibility that some refugees may use violence against us. Yet so what? Christ knew that he was going to be put to death when he came to earth yet he still came. The selfless missionaries I mentioned above didn’t think of themselves when going overseas, but accepted death before stepping on to the boat. None of us get out of this life alive. We can hate or we can love. We can be like Jesus and seek to unite all the nations in the worship of God, or we can be like the enemy who only wishes to divide.
I write this with all the love in my heart to The Christians of the United States.