GIVE THE POPE, SOME HOPE.


Ten days ago, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation as the leader of the Catholic church. His resignation, the first Papal resignation in over some 600 years, sparked rumors and finger pointing about what led to such a decision. I have no doubt more information will continue to surface over time. But I have to ask…so what?

Pope Benedictus XVI

Pope Benedictus XVI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having been a member of the Catholic Church for decades until I chose to leave and pursue more non-denominational Christian faith, there has always been a bit of awe and secrecy about what happens in the Vatican even among Catholics. Thousands of Christians flock to St. Peter’s Basilica yearly to get a glimpse of the “place where the pope resides”. There is little doubt in my mind,  the Pope has enamored followers not atypical for any leader.

Granted, political leaders use technology to report every move from golfing with a celebrity, or choosing a pet to visiting a dignitary or calling a special session of Congress to let their constituents learn about their behaviors. The Vatican has always been less about public relations and constant exposure in the public eye.

Perhaps it has been that lack of transparency that has caused the rumors to swell about this Pope’s resignation. Some say his resignation came as a result of becoming aware some European countries were about to name the Pope in a lawsuit regarding the Catholic Church’s cover-up of long term sexual abuse in its ranks. He had already been named in a lawsuit in 2012, alleging he failed to take action with a cardinal accused of abusing deaf boys for decades. That lawsuit has been withdrawn. Some believe this Pope has failed to address other issues of mismanagement in the Church and needs to move on. Others say the Pope is suffering from a terminal illness,while still others believe the Pope has simply recognized his physical limitations and is stepping down as a result of age.

Whatever the reasons, every Christian should remember Christ’s words to those who were about to accuse Mary Magdalene of adultery. “Let him without sin cast the first stone.”  Corruption, deceit, mismanagement of power and less than wise decisions have been apparent in all types of leaders, political, social, religious, educational and otherwise. Those who head those foundations are human and regardless of who or what they represent they are also sinners; perhaps even sinners with good intentions, but humans and sinners nevertheless.

Our world is far from perfect. Our leaders, our representatives, our families, colleagues, neighbors, friends and anyone who we do life with, sin. If they did not, they would be God. We have seen religious leaders, sports figures, political representatives, supporters for social justice, well known educators and activists fall from grace. While I am not saying the Pope may have been complicit in anything, I am saying nothing should surprise us or be above our need to forgive. People are ugly. God is not and while the Catholic Church designates the Pope as the representative of God, He is still man.

One of the beliefs of the Catholic Church is the Pope’s Infallabilty, simply meaning when he defines a doctine about faith or morals representing the Catholic Church, he is preserved from the possibility of error. This doctrine dates back to the 1870′s.There are many conditions for Infallability and outside of the Catholic doctrine, it does not mean the Pontiff has some magical power that makes every decision perfect.

I have huge reservations about the Doctrine of Infallability and never quite understood it when I was a member of the Catholic Church and perhaps it was one of many questions I could not reconcile that led me to leaving that type of faith. However, regardless of what I understood, I truly believe it is not up to man to judge man. I also believe that those who hold the Catholic faith have a deep respect for the Pope as those with other beliefs have for their church leaders,and I urge Christians to pray that a wise and effective leader will emerge for Catholics as those who believe in salvation can hardly achieve it without supporting our comrades in faith.

How many 85 year olds do you know with the stamina and energy to lead an entire
“nation” of believers? Perhaps the Pope recognized what God might have truly been calling him to do…rest!

Why the Pope chose to resign is not the issue. Continuing to follow Christ is.

The Pope is a touchstone for Catholics and they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

How do you think Christians should best support those in the Catholic Faith during this time of change and upheaval?

Kathy Brunner is an author and speaker.More about her can be found at http://kathybrunner.com. Come follow on Facebook or Twitter

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WHAT’S FAIR?


Tax

Tax (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

It’s obvious, our financial houses are a mess. Whether it is our government’s, our company’s or our personal financial house, problems in one affect that other. Nearly every American has seen a diminished pay-check since the beginning of the year. The government has not balanced a budget in several years, but then many individuals haven’t developed a budget for their personal lives either.Governmental spending is unchecked and as congressional members seek to appease their constituents with pork-barrel projects often just to keep their careers viable, companies and individuals often function much the same, with little constraint when it comes to purchasing, investing or having a series of true checks and balances. We are all out of control!

Many individuals have convinced themselves  they have no margin for saving and little for re-adjusting their budgets, if they even have one, but a budget which really disciplines us to live within our means is a learning process sometimes only acquired after numerous mistakes and failures and years of ignoring the need to do something different with one’s finances.

Tithing is a Biblical principle and although we might bulk at the thought, taxation is as well. It’s unrealistic to not be expected to support programs which make our lives safer, healthier, more educated and simply beyond marginal. Biblical principle or not, Tax is not going away.

I hardly know anyone who feels the Internal Revenue Service is an agency with simple rules and regulations and welcomes their intervention into their business or personal lives. This agency has so many volumes of laws, exemptions, and exceptions, sometimes those who deal regularly with them are still  baffled by new addenda and criteria. The only simple form to complete for the IRS is if you aren’t working and earn no income. Should it be this complicated in order to pay your “fair share?” 

The national debt clock outside the IRS office...

The national debt clock outside the IRS office in NYC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Truthfully, “fair share” is hardly accurate. There are so many loopholes, tax code interpretations, exemptions and levels of deductions that we might refer to our current tax  system as anything but fair.

So if as Christians we are actually expected to tax and be taxed, is it not a more fair approach to ask those who consume more to be taxed more?  Realizing we will all be taxed the same based on what we purchase, may help make every consumer more conscientious about wants and needs. Sure, someone wanting a boat and able to afford it may purchase a boat but someone else wanting the same who really can’t afford it to begin with might decide the better choice is to not buy because the taxes make the payments even more prohibitive. 

A flat tax or similar economic process means yes, the rich can afford to buy more, but wait…can’t they do that already? Now, the more they buy, the more they pay and those who have always been frugal will continue to reap the rewards of their discernment.

In the Bible, everyone was asked to tithe 10%  of what they had to offer. Whether someone has $2,000,000.00 or $2,000.00 everyone was expected to tithe their fair share. If we went back to these principles, perhaps we could finally get our economic houses in better shape.

IRS Form 1040X, 2005 revision

IRS Form 1040X, 2005 revision (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The mindset that “the rich get rich and the poor get poorer” often stems from the frustration those barely getting by feel when tax loopholes and deferments allow those with far higher incomes to reduce their “fair share.”

Aspiring to be wealthy is not wrong, especially if you have worked hard and earned your success. We should encourage individuals to use their gifts to their greatest ability and succeed in greatest measure. It should not be about tax brackets, loopholes, or write-offs. It should be about taxing what we want because it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor if we are both going to pay the same tax on the same car, plasma television or winter coat.

Yes, the poor will always be with us as will the rich, but perhaps the lack of a fair flat tax is now creating a chasm where there are two end of the extremes and no middle.

IS A FLAT TAX A MORE CHRISTIAN APPROACH TO OUR ECONOMY? 

http://ideacapitalists.comThere are many aspects to work out but the reality remains the same…resentment, frustration, class-envy, personal accountability and self discipline would all be changed by instituting a FAIR TAX and I think it is time we ask if we don’t need a true change to get all our fiscal houses repaired and in working condition.

Kathy Brunner encourages her readers to visit her other blog, FINDING YOUR FIRE, learning to live fired up instead of burned out and to join theFACEBOOK TRIBE to share their thoughts and experiences as well.
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UGLY TRUTH…BEAUTIFUL VOICES


This is not a post I want to write. It’s a post I have to write. Several weeks ago as part of a blog hop, I chose to write about my Passion Project; supporting efforts to help victims of human trafficking. So many people asked, “How can we help? What can we do?”

 

There is no hiding the blatant facts. Human trafficking is on the increase and is a huge profit machine not just in third world nations but also in the United States. Many people believe trafficking occurs primarily in large cities, but often the trafficked victims are first located in the comfortable bedroom suburbs we live in, oblivious to the girl at the mall, brainwashed by her owner and forced to locate “new unsuspecting girls” to lure into this life;so oblivious to the young girl on the corner with a backpack looking like she is just another teenager, but her entire world is in that backpack;change of clothes, condoms, and a bedroll she calls “home”


Once you hear how these victims were pulled into the trafficking arena, you feel more than disbelief or repulsion.You are appalled to learn they have been beaten until their spirit is broken, moved from place to place and forced into a life too horrific for most of us to even fathom. Children as young as 12 years old. Oh yes, in my city and in YOURS too.


Wellspring Living is one of just a handful of places in the country serving to rehabilitate these victims. This agency has spent years raising the awareness of this crime and when a victim is rescued or manages to escape, Wellspring Living offers an amazing step by step program to rehabilitate and return these individuals to school, a job, a home, a life.


It costs $56.00 to support a girl for one month in one of the programs at Wellspring Living. JUST $56.00! can help  bring back a dream, spark a hope, rebuild a life, surround a girl with a future.


THINK ABOUT THIS: If just 28 people donate $2.00/month or $24 a year, a girl in the program can receive a year of care. AN ENTIRE YEAR for a ONE TIME contribution of $24 or $2.00 each month(Less than you might pay for a cup of coffee DAILY!!)

So you asked how you could help; where you come in. PLEASE would you be one of the 28 VOICES who offers a one time gift of $24.00 or contributes just $2.00/monthly.

 Contribute HERE and every cent of your contribution immediately goes to helping the victims at Wellspring Living.

 

Every circle of  28 VOICES supports one girl for one year. PLEASE consider becoming part the circle to make a difference. Your donation is tax deductible. Do it for your own daughter, niece, granddaughter, friend, student. 


Donate so someday there is no need to to share this ugly truth, no need for programs to rehabilitate and restore, no further growth of modern day slavery.


28 VOICES exists because of this ugly truth. Won’t you please give the gift of a beautiful response.

To learn more about Wellspring Living visit their website and read the stories, get the facts, see the videos and learn more about their amazing programs.

Trafficking is not specific to one town or location.Please let me know if you would like to start a 28 VOICES program in your town. I’ll be happy to show you how.

20% of every copy of FINDING YOUR FIRE (paperback) goes to helping WELLSPRING LIVING

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Heavenly Father, guide those who vote to


Heavenly Father, guide those who vote today to elect the person you want to lead our great nation, for you have already planned it to be.

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10 Reasons Losers Give for Not Voting.


Yes, it IS a big deal. The 15th amendment gave it to African American males. It took another 50 years for women to have the privilege and nearly another 50 for 18 year olds to get the same. The right to vote has been earned and proctected by Consitutional amendments, Acts of Congress and Supreme Court decisions.


It’s your voice and voices are made to be heard. Don’t succumb to any of the following reasons losers don’t vote.


1.  I am too reluctant to let total strangers see my driver’s license or photo I.D. (didn’t that bartender just see it this weekend?)


2. I hate waiting in line? (but not for the latest phone.)

 

3.  I don’t know anything about anyone who is seeking office (but I did vote in the latest American Idol finals)


4. I don’t know how to use the voting machines (but I can beat anyone at Halo 4)…Can you button your own clothing?


5. I don’t know where to vote (Seriously cave dwelling is no longer cool.)


6. They don’t have any Starbucks at the voting location (You are right and there are no refreshments, entertainment or prizes…just the chance to keep a freedom while you can)


7. Being with a bunch of strangers means exposing myself to all types of germs (Does that restaurant, library, night club or party you attend have a germ free zone?)


8. Only old people are running for office (yeah, like you are getting younger every day!)

 

9. Someone might see me and it might look bad for my image (because those pajama bottoms you where to every sporting event really elevate your status in everyone’s eyes)


10. It’s only one vote and it doesn’t make a difference.(Let’s let everyone who thinks that see what type of a country we live in less than 10 years from now)


Rutherford B Hayes (yeah, that’s a real person) won his presidential bid by ONE vote. (maybe it was your great, great, great grandfather’s but yours might be the ONE that makes a difference for your children, grandchildren or great great grandchildren.)


Don’t be a loser… USE YOUR VOICE and VOTE because you STILL CAN and that might not always be the story we tell.



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Libya and the Middle East WWJD?


The news of the death of Chris Stevens , ambassador to Libya at the hands of terrorists on Sept. 11, rocked America‘s world once again eleven years after a the horrific attack on the World Trade Center.
Stevens believed after the terror reign of Muammar el Qaddafi, with the support of the U.S., Libya could develop into a more democratic country. He worked tirelessly to create circles of trust to develop the resources that would help Libya achieve that state. The doctors who tried in vain to save him had eyes filled with tears as they realized what they lost at the hands of rebel countrymen who killed four Americans that day at the American Consulate.  

America gives hundreds of millions of dollars to countries like Libya and Egypt annually and although the attack on the American consulate might have been described as a reaction to an American film which insulted Mohammed, military but nearly everyone recognizes the lie in that excuse. This was a well planned attack and within hours of this attack, other embassies in the Middle East and North Africa fell under attack from rebels in those countries.
A huge question arises about the U.S. role in foreign countries; one Christians cannot choose to ignore; Where does our moral compass lie financially when it comes to supporting     fledgling governments trying to rise above political turmoil, upheaval and oppression?

As the bodies of the Americans arrived back on U.S. soil, countless individuals dressed in various garb from their Mideastern countries held signs stating, “We are not part of this problem.” or “I support America and despise those in my country who did this to you.”

There are obviously good and moral individuals from Libya, Egypt, Iran and countless other countries where protests against the U.S. have ignited. Many of those people reside within our country as well as those who still live in the areas where their ugly countrymen are violating everything American. It would be foolish to believe there are not ugly Americans as well in our own country as well as other countries. The moral fiber of individuals is often not necessarily determined by country of origin.

Do we have an obligation to “save” those in countries where factions exist who not only do not welcome our aid but actually despise it? Are these actions signs from God to change direction and address issues within our our country or signs to test our willingness to go out on a limb for our fellowman?       

The crisis in the middle East has existed from the dawn of time and in a biblical perspective     can be part of God’s bigger plan. He has warned us of what will happen before He returns but He did not suggest we ignore the crisis or get involved.  He left that up to our free will.

Daily, countless missionaries lay down their lives to spread the gospel. Chris Stevens gave his to spread goodwill in re-building a country trying to recover from political oppression.  It is difficult and painful to see a purpose in offering good will while observing our nation’s flag being desecrated and our country’s leaders burned in effigy. 

It was difficult and painful for Christ to face His death at the hands of His own people as well. The names and the places may have changed but ugly people with ugly behavior have always been in our midst. 

So what should we really do now? Retreat? Seek military intervention? Ignore it? Exercise sanctions? Simply move on? Abandon our efforts? Re-consider options? All or none of these?

A "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD) bracelet

A “What Would Jesus Do?” (WWJD) bracelet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this crazy world, what happened this week often boils down to accurately being able to answer one simple question, “What would Jesus do?” 

I am just not certain the answer is as transparent as it was many centuries ago.

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WHAT WOULD CHICK-FIL-A DO?


Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently Dan Cathy, now president of the Chick-fil-A  restaurant chain indicated that the restaurant opposes gay marriage and supports the traditional marriage unit as based on Christian biblical principle. The restaurant, found by Truett Cathy has long demonstrated its Christian roots even in some of its actions such as closing on Sundays. Supporting traditional marriage is not surprising as Chick-fil-A simply is voicing its opinion and standing behind what it believes.

Many other institutions (hospitals, churches, universities) and I am sure many businesses have been founded on strong Christian principles but why is Chick-fil-A being singled out as the bad guy? I can’t help but think there is a strong opposition simply because Chick-fil-A  stood behind their belief. Surely Churches are less vocal because it is their mission to open the doors to all types of individuals and to single out one particular group and indicate the Church is not in support of gay marriage would drive a wedge between  Christians -to- be and the very vehicle meant to engage people into a relationship with Christ. Maybe few Christian physicians or lawyers share their support for traditional marriage to the world (but maybe they should) but certainly some have voiced their belief to individual clients. 

Various politicians in Chicago have prohibited a Chick-fil-A restaurant from opening stating they could not provide a permit to a business discriminating against a specific group. These vocal politicians also stated,…”Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago’s values.” However the restaurant agrees to treat everyone who comes through the doors with the same respect in service. So, the question becomes how is the restaurant discriminating or disrespectful by stating an opinion completely in line with the company’s long standing transparent philosophy?

If Chicago can permit a restaurant from opening because it judges the company is not in line with what the city represents, what would stop any city from doing the same? Surely there will be appeals and other protests, but I also have to ask why is Chicago being discriminatory against Chick-fil-A? Why not also ban the Catholic hospital that doesn’t permit abortions from having a location in Chicago. Why not prohibit the insurance carrier that won’t honor providing policies to same sex individuals who co-habitat a license to operate within the city as well? What about the school district that does not offer co-ed football or the adult bookstore around the block? Do those institutions or companies represent the city’s ideals they want to promote? Ironically some who are bashing Chick-fil-A’s presence call themselves, Christian.

It seems Chick-fil-A has been the victim of a witch hunt and one that it will  possible gain more exposure and  support from as a result. Unlike many institutions which are Christian in nature but not vocal about the difficult stand they should be taking, Chick-fil-A has stood out as one that is not afraid to preach what it practices.

It is not even a matter of standing up and being vocal for what you believe; it is about being prohibited from having an opinion and standing by it. Whether the Muppets creator or Chicago support Chick-fil-A is not going to break the company; in fact it may make the organization stronger, but one thing is for sure, Jim Henson and Chicago don’t represent the entire population either. 

The Bible doesn’t support prostitution either, but Jesus was the first to honor Rahab for her role in protecting those he loved. Be careful, Chicago…be very careful!

What is your stand on gay marriage, Christianity and Chick-fil-A? Don’t be shy. At least one company has made its opinion known.

 

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VENGEANCE IS MINE


As the jury debates Jerry Sandusky‘s fate, I recalled just a few days ago hearing someone comment that perhaps Casey Anthony is no longer the most hated person in America. While any crime against children in particular is reprehensible, I wonder if Christians have abandoned biblical principle when it comes to accepting judgement and moving on.

The country was shocked when Casey Anthony was acquitted and perplexed and disappointed when John Edwards did not get his due. Have we come to a point that what we hear and see in the media whether false or true has allowed us not just to form an opinion but to take on the role of judge and

Last Judgment

Last Judgment (Photo credit: JoetheLion)

jury, make our decision and become enraged when we believe justice is not served?

It’s only natural to feel anger and want a sense of justice when we hear about a crime that is disgusting, revolting and inhuman. Casey, John and Jerry are just a few individuals who have been made the headlines partaking in a lifestyle many feel unacceptable, but is it not just as unacceptable to hold them in contempt after the verdict is reached?

English: The Scales of Justice Gilded bronze f...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have an obligation to recall Romans 12:19,  “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

There have been and will be countless trails where the final judgement seems to be wrong, unfair and most of all disappointing when we believe justice was hardly served. I found myself wondering what kind of legal system we had when those I thought would be convicted were acquitted of all or most charges. I too wonder if the same will happen with Jerry Sandusky, but in wondering, I also realize only one can render a final judgment and when He does, all will be right in heaven and earth.

What was your reaction to the recent decisions in high profile crimes?

It is difficult to accept human judgment and settle for God‘s final one in times like these for me. Yet James 2:13 tells us “…mercy triumphs over justice.”

And with those words, I must ask myself can I be merciful? How about you?

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CHOOSE JOY…or Consider the Alternatives


I have just finished reading Kay Warren’s new book, CHOOSE JOY (Because Happiness Isn’t Enough). Kay of course is the wife of Saddleback Church‘s pastor, Rich Warren. Given her role as Rick’s wife one might think Kay had abundant joy in her life but that was not always the case.

Kay writes with a transparency that helps the reader identify with CHOOSE JOY by KAY WARRENcircumstances she faced as she looked at how our possessions, positions and personality affect our ability to know joy. Kay shares her own responses to the Jesus Movement and how we often choose self-inflicted rules rather than experiencing the incredible joy the Bible constantly reminds us is readily available. She reveals her own inadequacies and controlling nature as she shares the moments her joy was definitely compromised with the birth of her grandson and even in the moments Rick would share he thought she really didn’t like him!

I am a huge fan of JESUS CALLING and  particularly enjoyed Kay’s discovery through reading Sarah Young’s devotional how worry is a direct rebellion against God. Kay likens God’s children to pieces of broken stained glass which form no pretty picture when separated but when molded together in His design create an awesome picture!

Kay shares her personal triumphs in deliberately choosing joy and asks the readers some insightful questions to help make that change in their own lives. CHOOSE JOY is available as a Bible study as well.

So, if you are doing a little soul-searching and looking for a peace, contentment and comfort you can’t find in your life now, I recommend you read CHOOSE JOY and then do just that.

As a special treat for my readers, I will give away a hard back copy of CHOOSE JOY to a random reader who links this post to their FACEBOOK page or BLOG PAGE and then posts the link where they posted on my site at

http://facebook.com/onemoreserving.

GOOD LUCK!

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BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT


Finding Your Fire WEB RESOLUTION

Here’s the new “baby”

Although I generally post information that leads to more discussion, I did want to share that FINDING YOUR FIRE has arrived. Weighing in at about 9oz. with a bright, shiny new cover, author and baby are doing well, considering the lengthy labor!

If you ever had an idea, inspiration, goal or dream but just couldn’t seem to get it started,if you have been thinking about what you really want to do with your life all of your life, if you are stuck in a rut and just need a change or if you are still waiting for the right time, place, circumstances, or resources to point your passions to action, this is the book for you.

Read the stories of Trailblazers who learned how to take their passion and make it happen. Don’t just think about it…START SOMETHING BIGGER!

Get Fired Up…Not Burned Out.

I would love to have my readers come visit at kathybrunner.com. Come sign up for the free newsletter and follow the FINDING YOUR FIRE BLOG

Stop by and say, Hi! You are always welcome!

 

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