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Friday, April 19, 2019

For Easter and Ecumenical dialogue

A religious dialogue between an evangelical Baptist, my beautiful loving daughter-in-law Deanne and myself Troutbirder who is perhaps a skeptic or even a secular humanist. The dialogue that follows stems from my noting to  Deanne some of my favorite parts of the New Testament. Well, I have some issues with the Old as with that eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth stuff. Each part of the dialogue begins with my comments some favorite passages and Deanne’s take on those comments. Enjoy or comment on them in the comments section yourself. :-) Remember however this is not red state versus blue state stuff, nor zero sum debates but between two people who love and care for each other.

  Hi Ray!


I'm presently at my 2nd of 3 jobs I have.  My client  was born with a rare chromosomal handicap. .  He spent the first 5 months of his life at Children's hospital.  I was blessed to start working with him when he finally came home--a little "peanut" of a boy, with a sweet smile and pretty auburn hair.  He's my dear "Billy"  I just love him to pieces and am truly blessed to know him and his family.



Speaking of "blessed,"  the Sermon on the Mount is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible (Matthew 5).  It truly makes sense that you love that chapter, as well, Ray.  From your insight on each verse, backed up by the way you have lived, one can easily see you have a deep passion (from God, I believe) to help and advocate for the less fortunate--the ones who suffer...the lost...the lonely...the disabled...the weak...the poor...the unprotected...the vulnerable...the overlooked...the forgotten.  I have ALWAYS seen Jesus in you, Ray--but reading your take on the Beatitudes, definitely added another dimension to the beauty of your soul. 

 Not that my opinion matters, but since you asked me to comment on your take on the Beatitudes, I will do so now, for you...


"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  I think that may mean something about depression.  And I know it saved you and Barb when Ted went there to be with God.  Thank you for saying that, Ray.  When Ted went to Heaven, not only was my husband gone but so were my dreams and my future.  That's why it took me so long to regain my footing because TED had been my footing.  I had to turn my pain, depression, and FUTURE over to Jesus or I would have never made it.  Being "poor in spirit" meant relying solely on Jesus--the only One who could heal my pain and give me HOPE again.  And He did.  From that whole heart-wrenching trauma I came to realize REALITY that we are ALL passing away...that we are all dying.  And I can't tie my anchor onto anyone or anything that is passing away. I can only tie it onto the One who gave His life for me and is preparing a place for me in eternity.  Two of my favorite Bible verses are John 3:16-17, which I'm sure you know: 16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."


"Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted." That also covers the previous one.  I also know I've had a share of that business in my life.  Yes, you have, Ray.  Mental illness is no respecter of persons and it has dug it's ugly claws into too many of your beloved family members.  I can't IMAGINE the anguish you've had to endure, especially with losing your beloved son.   I do so hope the Lord comforted you in those valleys of darkness and carried you in His loving arms until the sun (AND Son) shone on your face again.


"Blessed are the meek for they shall possess the earth."  I hope that's true for they deserve it the most.  You are soooo right, Ray.  Ok--here comes my fiery opinion...(watch out!wink)  It is this point that makes me righteously angry with BOTH the republican and democratic parties.  Both parties talk out of both sides of their mouths. Scripture AND the constitution are clear that ALL life is important and valuable--whether you're of the 97% who are born with no birth defects or of the 3% who ARE born with so-called defects, whether you're Christian or Atheist or Muslim, whether you're one skin color or another, whether you're heterosexual or homosexual, whether you're a woman or a man or unsure of your gender, whether you live within the  "walls" of the United States or outside the "walls" of the United States, whether you live within the "wall" of a womb or on the outside of the "wall" of a womb...ALL life is important.   And I, too, hope the MEEKEST of the meek possess the earth someday.  The last WILL be first.


"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied."  Another core value for me and it should as well be for our country and many others.  But as a country we have failed that many times because of many things including prejudice racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. etc.    I completely agree.  And I would also add in there that this country has failed because of greed, selfishness, and disrespect for God and for our neighbor.


"Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy."  Yes indeed, the good Samaritan.  I love that story of the Good Samaritan.  Did you know that in Jesus' day, the Samaritans were looked down upon because they weren't purebred?  (That goes back to when the Assyrians conquered the northern tribes of Israel and many of the areas of those regions--AKA, Samaria became "mixed" then).  Yet, it was the "unclean" and "mixed" person from Samaria who helped the half-dead traveler on the road.  We ALL need to be good Samaritans!  The world would definitely become a better place if we did!


"Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God."  I'm not sure what clean means here but under my sainted mother's direction I was a long time member of the clean plate club.  Hahahahaha!!!!  I love your sense of humor!  But back to the verse,  I think "clean of heart" here means asking God to forgive us of our sins and then seeking to do what God wants.  I always think of Psalm 51 when David was so remorseful for his sins and he cried out to God, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."


"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God."  The very best people in the world who follow the teachings of Jesus, and knowing what I know now, would not have volunteered to fight in Vietnam nor any of our subsequent wars.  Word war II yes--it was a fight against an evil man in system, including the Holocaust, likely the worst kind ever.  Trying to exterminate one religion by another tribe on the basis of race and religion.  I really don't think I have the right to comment on this one because I don't know much about ANY war except World War II, and I was never deeply rooted in a military family.  My dad was in the National Guard and so was Troy, but otherwise, I really don't take a side on anything with the wars (mainly because I'm ignorant--unlike you, who knows a lot). I DO respect your opinion, though, on this matter.  But back to the verse,  Jesus says that any who try to make peace shall be called children of God.  I don't know about anyone else, but I  certainly want to be a child of God so I will do all I can to be at peace with everyone.  The writer of Hebrews reiterated the statement, when he wrote, "14Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the LORD." (Hebrews 12:14). And you're more than right about the Holocaust (of the Jews or ANY other group of people) being BRUTAL, inhumane, and EVIL.  Hitler and his wicked cohorts are definitely reaping now what they sowed during their time on earth.  They were NOT children of God--and because of that, they are in a place where God IS NOT.


"Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  Well, justice and mercy have somewhat been covered so I will mention heaven.  I mostly believe that heaven and hell are here on earth as God gave us the ability to make choices; thus heaven is here on earth and is made by mankind's choice of love or hate. My take on the verse is that Jesus for-warned us  that anyone who follows Him WILL be persecuted-- It's a given.  And as the end draws closer, evil will continue to ramp up and will try to snuff out Jesus' commands of "Love God first" and "Love your neighbor as yourself," and also His Great Commission to spread the Good News about Him.   But we WILL be rewarded in the end for following Him, believing in Him, and for receiving Him as our Lord and Savior.  In my beloved mother's obituary it was stated that all her suffering (which can be synonymous with persecution) had been replaced with the crown of righteousness. (2 Timothy 4:7-8).  


Moving on to your take on "the kingdom of heaven"--it's interesting!  Thank you for confiding in  me, in writing, and also in person, your "beliefs" on heaven and hell.   Do you mind if  I share with you another segment of favorite Scripture verses (I have a gazillion, by the wayteeth_smile).  In John 14, Jesus is comforting His disciples.  They know He is about to die soon.  This is what He says:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going'

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7


Just as Jesus was comforting His disciples with this assurance, He also comforts ME with these promises that He's coming back one day to take me to my new Home--my permanent Home with Him (and with Ted and my mom and grandma and with YOUR mom and dad).  I can't wait!  But until that day happens, I have a lot of living to do yet here and a lot of GIVING to do yet unto others.  --NOT because my salvation depends on it but because I WANT to do it in joyful response to what Jesus did for me.   I am saved because I have a SAVIOR--and one day I will reside with Him WHEREVER Heaven is located.


So how did I do on my commentary??  Yes, I admit I'm opinionated, but hey--I DO have a mind, a heart, and a will of my own!  God made each of us uniquely--made in His image, but still UNIQUE.  I'm glad I'm unique.  And I'm glad YOU'RE unique, too, Ray.


 Blessed are the...  blessed is ME!!  --To have a Savior, to have life, to have love, and to have BEAUTIFUL people in my life like you, Barb, and Ted.   I hope you feel blessed, too, Ray!!


I would love to come to church with you one of these upcoming Sundays in March!  I'm going to shoot for March 17 or March 24th.  I would feel honored to attend with you, hear the sermon, greet your fellow Spring Valley Methodists, and have Sunday treats with the friendly female parishioners.  Sounds like it would be a perfect start to a new week!  I will talk to you about it soon.


Hope you have a joy-filled weekend, Ray! 

I love you!


Deanne and Mrs. T. 

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