I know, I know, you’re probably tired of reading about the papal visit to America.  I mean, how could you stand one more article, one more news report, or one more commentator talk about Pope Francis in the United States?

Well, I promise to make this short.

The Pope

When Pope Francis  visited last week, we made sure our KIVU Gap Year students had a chance to be in the crowd in Philadelphia.  We wanted them to sense, feel, and talk with people in and around the neighboring areas they live and investigate this phenomenon Pope Francis is bringing with him around the world.

Some of my protestant friends were a little put off by the notion of introducing my students to “Catholic” doctrine, but I had to quickly remind them the Catholic Church was founded nearly 2000 years ago, and it’s still around.  Protestants have only been in existence for the last 500 years, and must be careful to Protest just for the sake of protesting.  (but that’s another article all together)

I was amazed as I watched Pope Francis from Washington to New York and finish in Philadelphia.

He rode in a Fiat instead of a Limo
He turned down dinner with the power brokers of congress to have dinner with the homeless
He visited a correctional institution to talk with prisoners
He stopped several places to bless handicapped children
And at the end of each of his speeches he left with “Please pray for me.”

Now, it may not seem like a big deal to you, but when someone has the ability to embrace the power and love from millions…that can usually go to a man’s head.  After all, he’s the Pope, but he’s still human.  And in each temptation to embrace ego, power, and prestige, he greets it with humility.

Like Jesus said, “A good tree bears good fruit, and a bad tree bears bad fruit.”  I think you might judge this Pope by the fruit he shows to the world.

The Moon

I’ve been hearing about this Blood Moon deal for the last three years.  Popular San Antonio pastor John Hagee even wrote a book about the Blood Moon, 4 Blood Moons and the signs and wonders written in the Bible as it coincides with various Jewish festivals, and implies there is something awful about to happen to Israel.  Funny, he happens to be riding the rise of a nuclear deal with Iran to talk about how his thesis holds truth.  Even though every Middle Eastern Expert I know (and I know a few) sees this as an incredible diplomatic accomplishment, Hagee sticks to his guns.  He says God is lining up the Moon to tell the world that something on a “grand and global scale is about to happen.”

If I might add my own opinion, How convenient and detailed! 

Hagee says the world is blinded by darkness, but I suggest maybe in this era of ‘right-ness’ he may even be blinded by his allegiance to power.  There is very little grace.  There is very little compassion.  There can be little to be seen about Jesus in his Blood Moon prophecies.  He almost sets up a war because…well, that’s how He reads the Bible.  He goes on and on in an interview with CBN how Iran is the direct correlation to the Blood Moon.

And I get it.

Naysayers, and smooth talkers have been scaring people to death for years as they march their publishing rights up the steps of the their own bank accounts.  I don’t know why, but people love to be scared about God’s judgement.   (Foxholes and Forgiveness make compelling bedfellows)

But what of God’s Love.

Does God love the people of Israel?
Of course.
Does God love the people of Iran?
Of course.
Does God love the people of America?
Of course.

The Bible says, God so loved THE WORLD….(John 3:16) and that’s EVERYBODY.

And Jesus

I wonder if Jesus might look at this situation and ask, “Who is the better neighbor?  The one who preaches humility and grace to the needy?  Or the one who scares people into cosmological eschatological nonsense using my name?”

After all, Loving God and Loving your Neighbor as yourself are the two most important laws Jesus reveals to us about keeping all the law and the prophets.  He says, “All the law AND THE PROPHETS hang on these two commandments?”  It seems like if you’re on God’s side, instead of demonizing from a place of power, there’s a humility that we should embrace for all people.

I wonder what Jesus would do here?

Would he call out the religious officials who oppress those who follow them?
Would he highlight the work of a gracious man who uses his power and authority in the most meek way I’ve seen men in spiritual authority act?
Would he call them both out for being human?

**I think this conversation has a long thread of discourse we can chase.  Please respond with kindness.  We don’t want to fight here.  We simply want to voice opinions, and see where it goes.  Please:  If you’re going to comment on the Middle East, be sure you have your facts together.  I would suggest reading many sides of the issue at hand before you comment an opinion.  Mainly, because I don’t want to have to keep coming back to educate with facts.

So….I guess the question then is…What would Jesus do today?


  1. To answer your question, Mr. Braner…What would Jesus do today?…I think he would do exactly what you have done…reminding us of what he “really” said, and then encourage us to go and do that. Your blog just keeps getting better and better…keep that up. Thank you!!! Talk to you soon………..

  2. Using prophecy to predict rather than to confirm is risky business at best and at least one commentator last week noted that Hagee has been very consistent… in his opinion 100% wrong 100% of the time. The other side of that coin is those that have taken Jerimiah’s “I have plans for you… all good… no evil” out of context. The text all around that verse speaks to the Father’s determination to make them captives in pagan Babylon. What is good for us is His efforts to make us more like Himself not keep us comfortable. All of us, including the See of Rome where gold has been drizzled over or is wholly the content of many possessions would be benefited by spending more of ourselves to meet the needs of the fatherless and widows while maintaining a character that wants to be spot-free of the lies, lusts, and luxuries offered by the evil one who came to kill, steal, and destroy… abundant life is still offered by a single Supplier of all our needs.

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