Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

This isn’t very biblical

A social media acquaintance posted something I want to share here, and then I’ll offer a brief comment.

It comes from the New Testament:

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men … but when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your father who is unseen.” ~ Matthew 6:5

My friend posted the message along with a picture of Joel Osteen standing before an enormous crowd in the “church” he converted from a Houston sports venue. It’s gawdy and, well, a testament to conspicuous consumption.

It ain’t my kinda house of worship.

I thought Jesus had it right when he instructed us to pray in privately. This sort of glam-worship is a major turnoff … at least it is to me.


Will evangelicals ever find, um, ‘religion’ when it comes to Trump?

Our nation’s evangelical Christians still seem to be all in with Donald John Trump.

He is their guy. He nominates judges to the federal bench who will rule the way evangelicals want them to rule. Therefore, Donald Trump — who has no known active association with any church that anyone can detect — is just fine in their version of the Good Book.

The rest of the Christian community — and you can count me among that crowd of patriotic Americans — are still scratching our noggins over this clown’s vise grip on the evangelical movement.

I harken back to the time he referred to the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians as “Two Corinthians.” No faithful Christian ever would refer so clumsily to that New Testament book, right?

And then … we had Donald Trump just this past Easter weekend wish us all a “happy Good Friday.” That made me chuckle, given that Good Friday is arguably the most somber day in all of Christianity; it’s the day Jesus Chris was crucified. The joy arrived three days later, according to Scripture, with Jesus’ resurrection.

Still, this president remains the main man among evangelicals.

I don’t get it.

A meme showed up on my Facebook feed. I want to share it here. It’s a grossly overstated critique of evangelicals’ fawning fealty for this cult figure, but it speaks for many of us who are thoroughly and profoundly disgusted with the outcome of the previous presidential election.

Donald Trump doesn’t even have a passing acquaintance with the Holy Word as printed in the Bible. It is not just evident. It is obvious to any of us who have read holy Scripture and who come away with our own interpretation of what it instructs.

Evangelical movement showing signs of splintering

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

If the soon-to-be-former editor in chief of Christianity Today has accomplished anything with his scathing critique of Donald J. Trump, it is that he has revealed deep divisions within the evangelical movement and its love-loathe relationship with the president of the United States.

Mark Galli wrote an editorial condemning Trump, calling for his removal from office on the grounds that he is “profoundly immoral.” Galli, who is retiring soon from his post, calls the impeachment of Trump a deal-breaker, saying that the articles of impeachment suggest a president with no moral character.

Other evangelical leaders have rushed to Trump’s defense. One of them is Franklin Graham, the son of Christianity Today’s founder, the late Billy Graham. Others have joined in as well, condemning Galli for challenging Trump, who many say has done more for the issues friendly to evangelicals than any president in modern history.

The evangelical Christian movement, therefore, is having a serious debate within its ranks that, as I see it, mirrors what is occurring across the nation along more secular/political lines.

This is a healthy development within a key Trump constituency.

I credit Mark Galli for breaking this matter open, for exposing the divide for the rest of us to witness in real time.

And yes, there is a certain irony that this debate is occurring at this holy time, as Christians around the world celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth. It might be that was Galli’s intent all along, to publish the editorial, to provoke this discussion at this time of the year.

If that’s the case, then all I can add is this: well played, sir.

I want to share the editorial with you one more time. Take a look.

Merry Christmas.

A man of deep faith is ‘at peace’ with death

Jimmy Carter’s abiding faith in God is well-known and has been chronicled extensively since the moment he burst onto the national political scene more than four decades ago.

So, when he tells a Sunday school audience that he is “at peace” with the prospect of death, should the rest of us be surprised? Of course not! Those are the words of a man committed to his deep Christian faith.

Christianity tells us that faith and belief in Jesus’s teaching and his existence as the son of God means we pass from worldly life to eternal life. That has been President Carter’s credo. It has sustained him through an amazing life of service to his country and then, through his faith, to his fellow humans.

This former president has set at least three remarkable records.

  • President Carter is the oldest living man who has held the nation’s highest office.
  • He has lived longer in his post-presidency than any other former president.
  • Oh, and his marriage of 73 years to his beloved Rosalynn is the longest presidential marriage in U.S. history.

Jimmy Carter, the nation’s 39th president, has lived an exemplary life. He has committed himself to others, choosing to forgo a life of personal enrichment.

It is totally in keeping with this man’s good life that he would be “at peace” with knowing that his time on Earth will end.

You may count me as one American who wants him to remain among us for as long as is humanly possible.

Thank you, Mr. President, for your glorious service to the nation — and to the world.

War on Christmas: always been a phony issue

Santa Claus is on his way.

Christmas is about to arrive. We’ll have a good day. We’ll spend some time with our sons, our daughter-in-law, our granddaughter and her brother.

Our time preceding this holy day has been relaxing and full of joy. I refuse to let the “hassles” supposedly associated with the holiday season get the better of me. There are no hassles as far as I’m concerned, so don’t tell me about them.

I want to assure you as well that as I’ve done my shopping — whether for groceries or gifts during this season — I keep hearing “Merry Christmas” from vendors’ employees as I complete my purchases.

Isn’t that cool? Sure it is! It’s also evidence as I see it of the phoniness of the so-called “war on Christmas” that conservative mainstream media tend to suggest is under way. Former Fox News blowhard Bill O’Reilly was the chief proponent of this phony war; he’s gone from Fox now, but others have mentioned it from time to time.

Donald Trump campaigned for president vowing to insist that businesses with their customers “Merry Christmas,” and not “Happy Holidays.” Fine, except that it’s never been an issue or a problem.

So I want to declare tonight that the war on Christmas doesn’t exist. Let’s just declare victory against a non-existent enemy against this joyous holiday and go about our business.

There. I just did.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Ready for a joyous day

In the interest of observing and honoring the Christmas spirit, I am going to pledge to go soft on the president of the United States of America during the next 24 hours.

I use this blog as a cudgel to beat Donald John Trump over the noggin as often as I deem fit. It’s quite often, indeed.

However, we’re going to honor the birth of a child who came to Earth to absolve the rest of us of our sins. Yes, we’ll also celebrate the more secular side of the holiday, the arrival of Santa Claus.

It’s a day to open gifts from loved ones and to relish the joy of children who have waited all year long for Santa Claus’s arrival.

It’s no day to discuss politics, or public policy or the many aspects of both that trouble us.

Christmas also is a day to reminisce on when we all were much younger. Here is one of my memories:

When I was a boy, Mom and Dad had this ritual we played out every year. We enjoyed a quiet Christmas Eve at home. My sisters and I would go to bed early, try to sleep through the night. We would get up way before sun-up on Christmas Day. We would wake Mom and Dad, who would roll out.

My sisters and I would leave a glass of milk and some cookies on a plate for Santa to consume when he arrived with our gifts. We would notice the partially drunk glass of milk and a half-eaten cookie on the plate. There was the note from Santa, thanking us — by name — for the treat we had left. It didn’t dawn on us in the moment that Santa’s handwriting looked just like Mom’s . . . go figure!

We’re all grown up now. We’re all serious individuals (most of the time). However, we still all enjoy Christmas and revel in the joy it brings. So does my wife. Our sons are grown, too. Oh, but we have a granddaughter now who cannot wait for Santa Claus to come.

I’m going to concentrate on those joyful moments and rejoice in the event that Christmas symbolizes.

I’ll get back to the other stuff in due course.

I just want the president of the United States to avoid doing something profoundly stupid on this holy day. Absent that stupidity, I’ll look for positive subjects on which to comment.

Merry Christmas!

Left hand, meet the right hand

I consider High Plains Blogger to be a forum for commenting on politics, policy and life experience. I use it to comment on those matters with with great glee.

For a moment, though, I want to veer far from any of those topics. Well, maybe “life experience” might qualify.

I learned something today in Sunday school that had me scratching my noggin about our secular world and how we human beings morph the Holy Word occasionally into something quite different.

We are studying Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. Then we ran into this passage from the Gospel of Matthew 6:3. According to Scripture, Jesus Christ instructs us, “But when you give to someone in need, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

Given that I am far from a biblical scholar, I wasn’t aware of those words of wisdom — until I saw them today.

Why scratch my head? Because in our contemporary society, we now use the reference to our “left hand not knowing what the our right is doing” as a pejorative. We scold individuals or those who run institutions by saying that “the left hand doesn’t know … ” You get the point, right? Of course you do!

However, according to New Testament Scripture, Jesus Christ himself tells us to avoid letting each of our hands know what the other is doing. How in the name of all that is holy did this bit of divine instruction become a metaphor for criticism?

I might never use that saying ever again when I witness confusion unfolding before my eyes. I’ll have to get creative.

There. Now, back to more worldly matters.

Bible gives POTUS authority to blow up the world?

One of the many wonderful aspects of the Bible is that it can be interpreted in countless ways.

My understanding of the Bible I’ve read since childhood is that no one is entirely right or entirely wrong … if they believe in what they are interpreting.

So, when a preacher says that the Bible gives the president of the United States all the authority he needs to blow another nation to bits, well, that’s the preacher’s belief. It doesn’t have to be mine.

The Rev. Robert Jeffress is an avid Donald Trump supporter who went on “Fox and Friends” — the president’s favorite TV show — to proclaim that Romans 13 gives the president justification for attacking North Korea in the wake of that country’s threats to the United States.

I looked up Romans 13 in the Bible on my desk. I scoured through it and I don’t read anything of the sort. Then again, I’m not a biblical scholar. I’ll give Jeffress credit for studying the Bible more than I have. But as I noted already, we ultimately are left to our own value systems to interpret words written thousands of years ago. Believers can differ in their understanding of the holy word.

Some of them take the words literally; others — such as yours truly — take a more interpretive view of its contents. I won’t challenge Rev. Jeffress’s faith. I’ll just stand by a different view of the Bible’s contents.

The Bible I’ve read tells me Jesus Christ preached love and tolerance. I don’t know where he says it’s all right to destroy thousands of human lives because of a political dispute.

Is it in there? Somewhere? I don’t believe it is.

Who, what is Donald J. Trump?

A family member and I had an exchange earlier today about Donald J. Trump in which my kin sought to make a point that the president isn’t a conservative.

This family member is the real deal. He considers himself to be a true believer and that Trump is not of the same mindset as he is.

I’ll concede that point to my young relative.

The truth, as I see it, is that Trump has no ideological grounding. He entered politics seeking to shake up the world. He said he wants to “make America great again.” As I’ve watched him stumble, bumble and fumble his way through the first seven months of his presidency, I am left to wonder: What in the name of all that is holy does this guy believe? What does he stand for?

He appointed a White House communications director who used to support Barack Obama. Indeed, the president himself used to be friends with Bill and Hillary Clinton. He used to be pro-choice on abortion. The president once favored some controls on guns ownership.

He ran for president as a populist, vowing to restore American jobs. Trump then vowed to propose a trillion-dollar infrastructure improvement program. He wants to overhaul the tax code.

He has trashed our intelligence community. Trump has disparaged our nation’s most valued allies.

Through this maze of ideological confusion and nonsense, he remains the favorite son of the evangelical Christian community … even though he’s never — that I can tell — spent any significant time understanding the teachings of Jesus Christ.

His Republican Party “base” adores him because he “tells it like it is.”  Good grief, man! That’s it?

I have said until I am nearly hoarse that Donald Trump has no business being president of the United States. However, that’s what he has become.

As I continue to watch his flailing and — so far — failing administration, I am left to wonder: What in the world does this clown stand for, what are his core beliefs and what in the world is he doing to this great nation?

How would Jesus celebrate Christmas?

I think it’s worth asking — today of all days — whether Jesus Christ would approve of the way many of us celebrate the day of his birth.

We cannot know for certain. We only are left to our own faith, our own belief in whether he would approve.

My own sense is that Jesus Christ would be just fine with the secular celebrations we enjoy — as long as we also honor his arrival in this world.

Many biblical purists, of course, object to the Santa Claus-ification of the holiday. One of them here in Amarillo, for example, decided one day recently to make a spectacle of himself by berating children and their parents waiting in line for the kids to sit on Santa’s lap. The holiday, he said, should be reserved entirely and exclusively to honor Jesus’s birth.

My reading of the Bible I have read my entire life, though, suggests to me that Jesus wouldn’t object to the giving of gifts, Christmas trees, the sharing of love, the hugs and cheer that we spread among our friends and loved ones.

All of that, according to my understanding of the gospels, would be Christ-like to the max. Jesus was all about love and, yes, tolerance.

There’s been all this talk over the years about a fabricated “war on Christmas.” I suppose there’s been a war, all right. It’s been fought at shopping malls and department stores by parents and other so-called adults who get angry when someone else grabs the last toy du jour off the shelf.

I’m guessing Jesus wouldn’t like that kind of behavior. Remember, though, none of us around today walked when Jesus lived with mere mortals. We are left only to our own belief in what he would say or do.

Thus, I believe the man/God we honor today would join us in spreading love and goodwill.

Merry Christmas!