Friday, April 15, 2016

Joy among the tax forms

 So I was doing my tax return, as usual at the last minute. As a self-employed person, I never get a refund, and always have to pay double employment tax since it's not shared by an employer, so the government doesn't get my payment until the last few hours before the deadline. I did all my business bookkeeping in the week of Christmas, so in mid-April, it's just inputting it to the online tax service.

I'd saved the 1099 miscellaneous income forms and the charity receipts that came in January, and there was one I was dreading to open because it was from a financial institution to which I was indebted when my father died. Time's up, though, so I had to look at the numbers to deal with the situation.

 "Debt discharged." Not paid by his estate, not charged to me (as I thought). No interest as I feared. Just erased. This is one of those "too big to fail" banks, and they just don't do that. And yet, that's what the letter said. Debt discharged, and the amount.

That's not a bank thing. That's a God thing. I can't and won't tell details in a public blog because no one but me has a right to that information. But when my father died several years ago, there was no inheritance; not one item of antique furniture, family heirlooms, or anything from my father's and mother's estates came to me from my dad's second wife. Nothing except this shared debt. It deepened the grief at losing my dad, knowing that he didn't leave a letter or phone call, didn't bless us, didn't make a will or provision for my brother and me, but put everything in his wife's name. A not-nice person who constantly undermined relationships and treated us badly at every turn. 

"A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children." Prov. 13:22

But my *other* Father made a silk purse out of a sow's ear. He took my burden onto his own yoke. And he's given me hope. He's proved himself as the Father who has an inheritance for me--both someday, in heaven, and now, in his kingdom. Debt discharged. I'm free.

"You, O God, sent abroad plentiful rain; You confirmed Your inheritance when it was parched and weary." Psalm 68:9

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Going nowhere fast



© 2016 Christy K Robinson



I'd say I'm speechless, but I can't be. My jaw has dropped open in shock, but I definitely have things to say.

Ben Carson said (defending his endorsement of Trump and Trump's bomb blasts of misogyny, racism, religious oppression, and hate) that "...when you're very nice, when you’re very respectful, you talk about the real issues... where does it get you?” Carson asked. “It gets you where it got me: nowhere.”
--The View, 3/24/16

"It gets you nowhere." Bitter much, Dr. Carson? Goodbye to integrity, kindness, compassion, respect for others, not to mention Carson's profession of Christianity, which is supposed to be about compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and taking care of the downtrodden and helpless.

Being "nice" and "respectful" isn't supposed to convey you somewhere, or bring praise or votes or financial success. Being kind is something you do because it's something you ARE
Carson perhaps wants to go "somewhere" after his failed bid for the White House, so with his endorsement, he hitches his wagon to the Trump warhead.

"He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm." Prov. 13:20.

An English proverb says that "A man is known by the company he keeps."

Let me be found with the kind, the respectful, the compassionate, the inclusive, the thinkers, the wise, the grateful, but especially the lovers.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Are you voting with your middle finger?

Why Christians should not support this man:
"Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas."
"You're known by the company you keep."
We are transformed by what we behold:

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8
"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Cor. 3:18
 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

What it took me 5 decades to learn

© 2015 Christy K Robinson

I've always been thankful. When I receive a gift, I say "thank you" to the giver, or write a thank-you note before I use the item or spend the money. It's just good manners, as I was taught from infancy. I guess I thought that was enough: acknowledging the gift and telling the giver I liked it and they were very kind to give it. Not any more.

Gratitude is something deeper, I believe. The word comes from the Latin "gratus" or "gratia." We often use the word "grace" in faith settings, and it's usually defined as undeserved favor, or even as extreme as showing mercy to a known enemy. Gratitude is the condition of being thankful for a gift.

If the money or thing was earned, there's no grace about it--it's payment. But gratitude acknowledges that the giver owned something of value and relinquished it forever to the recipient with no expectation of repayment or reciprocation.

Something I've learned, again and again, but perhaps in a deeper way recently, is that gratitude is a lifeline out of despair. It doesn't make a lot of sense to be grateful for adverse circumstances, but I've found that being grateful that I'm beloved of God, and that I have the respect and love of friends, lifts me up from the pit where the Adversary flung me.

Rather than a rational explanation, the miraculous answer is that when I set my eyes on God, instead of my miserable circumstances, he has the opportunity to remind me from whence my blessings flow--and then sets them in motion. It's not that I deserve the blessing by my actions, but that he loves me and is liberal with his gifts. 

And as mentioned in the video "Just Be Held," if my eyes are on the storm, I'm not seeing the one who's saying "Peace, be still."

So being thankful, nay, being grateful right down to my core, is what I hope to be, and hold in my heart in increasing measure, in the new year ahead.



Sunday, December 6, 2015

Saint Nicholas on Santa's Naughty List!

From a Facebook post by minister Benjamin L. Corey
Today (December 6) is the Feast of St. Nicholas-- yes, the original jolly fellow himself.

He's remembered for giving gifts to children, trying to save girls from human trafficking, advocating for people on death row, and perhaps most of all: punching heretics in the face.

At the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, The man who would become "Santa" lost his cool when Arius argued that Jesus was not co-eternal and con-substantial with the Father, and punched Arius in the face for being a heretic. Some legends have it that a man named Eusebius responded by urinating on Nicholas' robe, but the position of Nicholas carried the day anyway.

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas! Heretics beware. 

********************* 

Comments from his readers: 


Adam Tate: St. Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra was present at the Council of Nicea but not on the list. So he was probably in a gallery around the Patriarchs involved. Or...its possible the slap was just days or even hours prior to the council sessions.

Arius was a deacon at the Church of Alexandria who defied the teaching on the nature of Christ. He had beef with the Bishop of Alexandria's teaching on the nature and substance of God. Essentially he claimed there was a time when the Son was not.

St Nicholas was known for his humility and poverty. He came from well to do parents who left an inheritance to him. Of which he gave away. He served time in prison for preaching the gospel. Just prior to Constantine taking the throne. He was an old man, while Arius was a young man. Probably young enough to be Father Nicholas' grand son. He slapped the young lad no different than we would scold a teenage son for his ignorance and defiance of their elders.


Michael Jay: Remember the result of this was he was removed from the council, stripped of his bishop's robes, and locked up until the council was over. His position was restored -- but, Nicholas removed himself from the council by his bad behavior.

Yes, he was an old man, but he also slapped a priest who was not in his Diocese, and who was bluntly the main reason the council was called in the first place. I imagine a lot of people wanted to slap him, but Athanatius (also a priest, same Diocese) managed to use his words; and that was what was necessary.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Christians spurring Christians

© 2015 Christy K Robinson

With all the poo being flung in the name of Christianity, from Christians right and Christians left, from atheists at Christians, and Christians at nonChristians, let's just stop and contemplate this lovely bit of wisdom from the New Testament, Hebrews 10:24:  
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."

Spur? That's a rather active verb! It doesn't say to spur (to rake, poke, wound) one another to criticism, discrimination, judgment, or fighting for what you think are your rights. It means to urge (impel, goad, press forward, proceed hurriedly, accelerate, empower, encourage) one another toward LOVE and good deeds.

Have you considered that insisting on your place in the sun, that your beliefs that abortion or LGBT family rights should be legislated, your desire for Christian holiday displays, prayer in public meetings, or taking up arms in the so-called "War on Christmas" is a never-ending source of derision and scorn to unbelievers?

Where atheists once sat quietly by when certain fundamentalists like the Westboro Baptist group, a televangelist, or political candidate made claims that most Christians wouldn't accept, now they openly ridicule and speak bitterly of all Christians. This is a comment, one of many like it, I found on a major magazine site:

I used to be a passive atheist, but no more. I finally realized that by being passive, I was complicit in allowing this nonsense to continue. These people's personal religious "freedoms" bleed over into everyone else's private lives. I'm not even talking about the the egregious and heinous crimes committed in the name of religion, but even in what should be normal, pedestrian affairs like with this dingbat in Kentucky.

The original bargain was, if people kept their religious views to themselves, inside their own houses, and as long as they don't violate any laws, we would leave them be. But that wasn't good enough. They simply are compelled to project their individual views unto others. That I cannot abide. It's reverse-persecution and they are the root of the problem.”
Does anyone think that castigating Starbucks for a plain red cup instead of a cup with snowflakes or flying reindeer on it is witnessing for Christ, when December 25 isn't Jesus' birthday but a pagan holiday? (The "evangelist" Feuerstein, who criticizes the company for "hating Jesus," is known for urging the murder of homosexuals! Who would want to be associated with a man like that? Well, two million Facebook followers of Feuerstein, plus Donald Trump and his followers.) Starbucks makes no claim of being a Christian ministry. They sell overpriced, burned coffee, not religion or politics.

How about the creation-versus-evolution controversy, or if humans were created 6,000 years ago or one million years ago? Refusal to serve or recognize the civil rights of same-sex couples? Providing contraception or pregnancy care for single female employees? Prayer in school? Living peacefully with other members of our community who espouse different religions (like, say, Islam)? In the United States, we have the Constitutional right to believe and practice what our conscience dictates, as long as it breaks no other law. So do that. Do that with all your strength. It's not your right to impose your beliefs on any other person or the government. Even God won't do that, which is why he gives us choice.

Consider how your "witness" may affect how other Christians are treated when fed-up nonChristians retaliate for being slighted. Blunt your claws. Do not resist the one that is evil, but turn the other cheek. (Jesus' words, not mine!) Practice the Golden Rule. Have the mind of Jesus, who "made himself nothing" to be one of us and save us.

Remember, God is not going to curse our country because you didn't fight for him or even because someone else sins. He is the judge, and his judgment day will come in his time. But he has left us with one commandment: "Love one another as I have loved you." 

And then he inspired someone to write in the letter to the Hebrew Christians in Rome, "Spur one another on to love and good deeds." Spur, as in urge, encourage, empower, and accelerate.




Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pre-existing condition

© 2015 Christy K Robinson

Some Christians, perhaps many Christians, will be offended at this meme of Jesus meeting a man who is begging for healing. "Sacrilege!" they'll huff, and turn away in disgust, just like the Pharisaical lawyer and the Levite priest turned away from the beat-up, nearly dead traveler on the Jericho road.

Candidates say a lot of stupid things during campaigns. Part of it is the constant barrage of questions and accusations from the partisan media, but when they consistently make bone-headed comments, there's no disguising their foot-in-mouth disease.

Several prominent Republicans have said that if they're elected President in 2016, they'll do away with the federal mandate for health care, despite threescore failed congressional votes and challenges that the Supreme Court has struck down. One is left to think cynically that they only say this stuff to attract wishful voters.

But what would really happen if, as Jeb Bush says, the Affordable Care Act were struck down and a new plan were implemented--one that looks exactly like no healthcare plan at all, like America had until recently.

"Bush emphasized ... that if elected president, he would scrap the Affordable Care Act and “all of its mandates” — including those that prevent discrimination against women and those with pre-existing conditions." http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2015/10/13/3711709/jeb-obamacare-plan/ 

No coverage for cancer patients, or those with chronic disease or disabling conditions or accidents. Everyone pays their own way, whether the monthly pharmacy bill is $10 or $10,000. No coverage for pre-existing conditions like asthma, diabetes I or II, heart disease, cancer in its many forms, those born with missing limbs or organs, the mentally ill, veterans with PTSD or disabling injuries, and those with sudden onset of strep or MRSA that infects their limbs? Remember the impoverished elderly who ration their daily medications because they can't afford food and shelter and meds? What about newborn babies who need organ repair or transplant? Like Mitt Romney suggested in 2012, no one has to go without healthcare because people could call for an air ambulance and go to the emergency room if they're really ill. Maybe on Planet Romney. But not here, where a 15-minute flight can cost $8,000-25,000, in addition to the emergency room, doctors, labs, procedures, surgeries, and medications. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/34419018/ns/health-health_care/t/air-ambulances-leave-some-sky-high-bills/#.Vh9EzG63tnQ

At one Republican debate in 2012, the discussion centered on a hypothetical patient who needed an organ transplant. A man in the audience shouted, "Let him die," and people applauded. No one protested that sentiment.

The very idea of Jesus refusing to heal, or attaching regulations and conditions on his miracles, is outrageous. You know what pre-existing condition every one of us have carried in our DNA since Adam and Eve? A sinful nature.

Jeb!™ Bush and Republicans who claim moral superiority with the Religious Right have forgotten that the sinful human nature is the ultimate pre-existing condition. Jesus's ultimate ministry was to heal THAT. But along the way, he freely healed bodies and minds, and seemed to make timely detours to heal those who weren't in his direct path! (The man with the withered arm who was healed on the Sabbath right in front of the people who accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath, the woman with the bleeding uterus when he was on his way to resurrect Jairus' daughter, the insane demon-possessed men of Gadara.)

I believe Jesus still does miracles today. He answers prayer, not always as we would wish, but for our best in the eternal sense. In fact, I believe that Jesus uses modern medical research, treatments, therapies, and pharmaceuticals to accomplish his will for us to enjoy the abundant life. And by providing a system of healthcare and prescriptions for those who had had no care or remedies for years, if ever.

I don't understand people who tell the world they're Christians, and then deny people healthcare because they can't pay for it. If they've read their Bible, they haven't understood it. 
  • Pure religion is taking care of the widows and orphans (the helpless in society): James 1:27
  • Caring for "the least of these" who are sick, in prison: Matthew 25
  • The crop gleaning system fed the poor and the aliens who had no land on which to farm
Do you have a pre-existing condition? Are you enrolled in the Book of Life? Did Jesus say, "LOL," or "Let him die!" or did Jesus himself bear our wounds, our flogging, our death, so that we may be healed from our sin? (Isaiah 53:3-11) And what about that command, the only command that Jesus issued, to "Love one another as I have loved you"?

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