On December 18, at approximately 8:23 pm E.T., Wisdom was viciously attacked in Washington D.C. by a mob of 230 men and women leaving Wisdom with life-threatening injuries. Wisdom was quickly taken to Walter Reed Medical Center and is reportedly on life-support. A team of doctors there, along with a team from Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic have joined their efforts to bring Wisdom back from what seems to be the brink of death.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an aide of one of the attackers told this reporter, and I quote, “It’s about time! Wisdom is an aged fool that keeps getting in the way of our plans and agenda. Wisdom needed to go into retirement on a deserted island.” I managed to locate Wisdom’s twin, Common Sense. Common Sense has been in a weakened state for years due to not being used. Common Sense told this reporter, again I quote, “I have long dreaded this day. I now fear my own death is more imminent now that ever. If my twin, Wisdom dies, then I shall also die.”
Lady Liberty arrived as soon as she heard about Wisdom’s condition. In a prepared statement she said, “I am gravely concerned about the future of Wisdom. Your founding fathers relied heavily upon Wisdom to form this republic. Even those founders who did not believe in the God of the Judaeo-Christian heritage, recognized both the importance and need for Wisdom. They knew this Republic would never last without Wisdom. And myself? If Wisdom dies, I know that they will successfully kill me.”
It is my personal observation that throughout the history of this famed republic that Wisdom has been attacked many times. Each time Wisdom prevailed. But this time? I am left unsure. All we can do is watch and wait. We will stay on top of this developing story until Wisdom dies; or Wisdom prevails.
The above quote of George Orwell is certainly apapoe in today culture. I’m not certain when he wrote this, but it is prophetic, nonetheless. Though he was a staunch democratic socialist, decades later his perspectives are ringing true. I remember reading 1984 back in high school. In 1973 I remember thinking, “This could never happen here in the U.S.” It didn’t in 1984, but if he had entitled that book 2020, I wouldn’t be so naive.
It’s happening now. Truth is being redefined by cultural experiences and the views of a few who become vocal. Case in point: Hallmark. Hallmark dropped ads on their channels because of same gender people were getting married and kissing. Now Hallmark Spineless Board of Directors have changed their minds due to the threats of 3.5% of the people. This statistic comes from The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
It is not just the sexual identity, or lack thereof, that is at the core of this sickly and unsound illness that is imbuing our current culture with it’s foul regurgitation that traces its roots to the Garden of Eden. Truth is no longer a measuring stick–but an ethos that is concerned with those concepts that make people feel comfortable, at ease and justified. It is a commodious truth that people have gone after. Maybe I should have said “commode”.
Society today certainly hates Truth tellers because “truth” no longer means TRUTH! Truth means feelings, unsubstantiated hypotheses, and whatever a small group feels is truth. Those who embrace time tested and proven TRUTH are hated and berated because they do not follow a commodious truth. A small percentage of the population wants to dictate to the rest of us how we should feel, what we should think, what we should say, how we should act, and most importantly–surrender Truth to them to define.
I am not a conspiracy wacko, though someone had to be on the grassy knoll, but friends and readers, 1984 is quickly coming upon us. . .UNLESS we choose to be undeterred with the real meaning of TRUTH and to speak it. . .speak it with love. . .speak it with resolve. . .speak it regardless if anyone agrees with it. . .and not compromise the TRUTH for a commodious lie.
You And I Need Mentors Who Will Give Us Wisdom!
Yesterday, while on our Holy Hiatus with family near Bartow, Florida I had an experience. . .and another Tuesday Thought. They wanted a digital TV antenna installed and asked me if I would install it so they could disconnect completely from cable TV. I thought it would be in my wheel house though I had never attempted such a feat. “After all,” I thought, “how hard can that be? Cable are already there; just put up that antenna and rearrange a few cables and viola! Project completed.” That was my first mistake–thinking!
So I began this “2 Hour” project. Four hours later, no signal or channels. In addition they lost their internet; something they didn’t want! Got the internet problem fixed, but still no signal or channels! Oh, I forgot to mention I hit my head on a floor beam crawling under the house–twice! That beam didn’t move a fraction of a millimeter. And making several trips, crawling on my knees, (did I mention hitting my head twice on the same beam?) isn’t good on these 63 year old knees, legs, shoulder, and back!
It was time for a break. Yes, I had looked at the limited printed instructions, such as they were, and even tried YouTube. As I sat there looking one more time at the instructions (and you say men don’t read instructions), I noticed something in the schematic drawing and I had an Epiphany Moment! Crawled under the house for the umpteenth time. Redirected a few cables, moved a couple of components and 7 Hours Later, I became a certified digital antenna installer.
What’s the lesson in all this? Well you need to know my attitude and perspective through this swamp. There was a time, not all that long ago, when my attitude would have been nothing but frustration, agitation and aggravation. Not so yesterday. I’m not bragging. . .but I was cool, calm and pleasant to be around. What is making this profound difference in this flawed Kingdom Pastor?
I’ve been spending more time with 2 of my mentors, Max Lucado and Andy Andrews. These famous people don’t know me from Adam’s house cat (I didn’t even know Adam had a house cat). But they are my mentors. Here’s how they have been mentoring me in 2 different ways. First, Andy has been helping me with Perspective and I am living with a different Perspective because I am NOT allowing my circumstances be THE determining factor for how I see my life.
Second, Max gave me (actually it was to all those who read his daily devotions) a challenge: To pray the Lord’s Prayer for 4 minutes for 24 days. Here’s how Max breaks down this prayer challenge:
- Father, Daddy, You are good. Spend a few moments praising Him for who He is, not what He does.
- I need help! Heal me.
- They need help! Heal them!
- Thank you, Daddy.
Now, these 2 things may not help you. But here’s the Thought: You And I Need Mentors Who Will Give Us Wisdom! To have wisdom, you must SEEK wisdom (thank Andy Andrews for this priceless gem). But not just any Wisdom; the Wisdom of The Ages, Wisdom that only comes from God. You need mentors who Seek Wisdom For Themselves. They can be people you know well, barely know, or as in my case, people who don’t know you.
If you won’t read or listen to Andy or Max, find someone who speaks into your heart and minds. But remember, make sure they are people who Seek Wisdom For Themselves. You need to spend dedicated time with your mentors. Maybe not hours, maybe 15 minutes, maybe just 3 minutes. But do it every day. Wisdom gives you the perspective to handle what should be a two hour project but turns into a seven hour project and remain a person that others like to be around.
And should you doubt this Process, remember these words from Paul:
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
God’s work does it’s best in those who are willing to make the commitment to Seek Wisdom! I have been constantly seeking wisdom, so I never lost the Right Perspective when nothing was working right. And because of my persistence, the project was successfully completed.
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM…by SEEKING PERSPECTIVE AND WISDOM–THE RIGHT KIND!
“So many people do not see the joy of God; they only see a god of anger and judgment.”
This morning as I was sitting on the patio, enjoying the last 2 days of this holy respite at Millsite Lake, I had another Musing. This time with family has always been a time to rest and recharge the old batteries. As I was looking across the calm lake, seeing the reflections of the stars on the surface, I looked up at those stars; as I did I told Heavenly Daddy, “Wow! What joy y’all must have had as you created this universe!”
And I meant it! I started imagining the joy the 3 of Them had as they unfolded their heart and mind in creation! Yes, I believe in Intelligent Design! I don’t have enough faith to think this wondrous universe just sorta happened by accident. It would take a lot of faith to believe in the big bang because it doesn’t make any sense to think everything I see is the result of “it just so happened that” kind of thinking.
And as I imagined that scene, the 3 of Them in Perfect Collaboration, creating this Wonder, I saw them smiling, laughing with joy; patting each other on the back and saying to each other, “You did real good with that one” And in that moment, I joined in with their smiling and joyful laughter. And then I realized something that brought me back down to earth. Here’s that thought: “So many people do not see the joy of God; they only see a god of anger and judgment.”
And I’m looking up at all those stars, knowing there were unfathomable more stars out there that I couldn’t see because of the lights from nearby cities wondering, “How in the world can people not see how great a joy that Daddy, Jesus and Spirit have for them? How do they NOT hear the joyful laughter of God?” And in an instant I had the answer to those 2 questions: “They have not seen or experience this because the typical image produced by the typical church hasn’t given them this view.”
Churchians and Tenured Pew Sitters paint not an imperfect picture of God (because none of us are capable of painting that perfect picture–if you can then your god is way too small)–they paint a distorted picture of God. They paint a Salvador Dali or abstract art type of picture of God. Recently in one of my messages I said, “If we go into a church service looking like we’re mad at the world and leave looking like we are relieved the service is over, no wonder people want nothing to do with our God.”
Not long ago, I had the holy moment to talk with a “Done”. If you are unfamiliar with the term “Done” (what rock have you been hiding under?), “Dones” are those who haven’t turned their back on Jesus, but they are “DONE” with the church; finished with it; fed up with it; exhausted from it. This person explained to me they dropped out of church because of the judgmental attitudes of that particular church (not the ones I currently serve, thank you, Jesus). This explains why at times I loathe the terms “church” and “christian” to describe the movement that I have given my heart, mind and life to.
We, as Disciples And Followers of Jesus (I prefer this term to the word “christian”) need to reclaim the Joyful Laughter Of God. Isn’t this what Jesus meant in this story:
“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.”Luke 15:4-7 The Message
There is coming a moment when God will bring everything we now see and know to an end–and bring about The Everlasting And Eternal Kingdom. We call this The Great Wedding Banquet. Do you think this scene will be like some formal dinning event like in The Hampton’s or with the Rockefeller Family, where people are sitting politely and subdued?
There is going to be “Great Rejoicing”, UNRESTRAINED JOY when it happens. And here’s the Great News–WE DON’T HAVE TO WAIT TO EXPERIENCE THAT KIND OF UNSHACKLED AND UNCONTROLLABLE JOYFUL LAUGHTER! It’s out there–the reason for it–it’s all around us–the JOYFUL LAUGHTER OF GOD. It is heard when you marvel at His Creation rather than looking with disgust at the culture. You can hear it every time another miracle happens. It’s the loudest every time a person surrenders and submits to His Grace and discovers that both the guilt and power of sin over them is taken away.
So, Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. Make sure all the glory goes to HIM…and join in the laughter of Daddy, Jesus, And The Spirit!
Do you try to form the cross to exclude your preferences…or are you willing to allow the Cross to transform you? Remember, Crosses aren’t easy to navigate–but necessary to follow Jesus!
I write a blog that few people read with a message most people don’t want to hear. I don’t white-wash it, sugar coat it, and I ain’t overly nice about it either. I’m offensive. I embrace being offensive. Not because I want to keep you at arm’s length or run you off, not because I want to get in a good lick in the fight. None of that.
No. I want to be REAL with you. And whenever you get to where you can actually HANDLE THE TRUTH, you will see what I mean, and we will get along fine!
You see, I am offensive because I was Born Again This Way.
What WAY was I born again?
Well, if you follow me to the white, middle-class, Protestant, American, Evangelical church I am most likely to attend and look and listen very carefully, you would be pardoned by thinking the…
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Last Saturday I told a story about my son, Matthew. Now, I never used my kids as examples in my sermons. . .while they were living at home. After they left the nest–they became fair game. This week’s story is about yours truly. But unlike Matthew’s story, I’m NOT the hero. It was from December of 2007. I’m calling this story:
I Will Be Joyful, Even If It Kills Me!
In December, 2007 I was forced to do something (again) that I claimed I would never do this time of year. It is something I absolutely loathe. Every year at this time I say I will not do it, I will not do it! And every year I find myself forced to do it. I find myself groaning in my heart, much like Paul when he wrote in Romans 7:15—For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. What was it so terrible I found myself forced to do? I HAD to go to the local discount super center to pick up some things. The items I needed were only there, and if I could have made myself get up at 2:00 am, I would have gone then—but that’s when I do my best sleeping.
Understand something. . .these are “my” people. This is the area I grew up in as a child. For the most part, these are good, solid, salt of the earth people; EXCEPT when it comes to Christmas shopping. My people turn into monsters and vile, evil hordes. Oh, there are those exceptions; but those exceptions are almost as rare as the winning lottery tickets. If Dante lived today, I’m sure he would have included an extra level of hell!
So, with a sense of dread and angst, I entered the challenge—of finding a parking place, and then dealing with those annoying people who stop on the main aisles to converse with friends and family. (I’ve often wondered why some families don’t just go ahead and announce that their Family Reunion will be held at the local Wal-Mart.) Some people seem to find it a thrill to go shopping this time of year—I am not one of those.
I suppose my dread comes from my past experiences of having worked in a retail environment during this time of year. Not that I believe in different levels of hell and punishment (because I don’t)—but if I did believe that, working retail during Christmas would certainly be classified as one of the lower levels.
But before I left the house, I decided this time I would, no matter what, display in my face and words and actions, the spirit of joy, love and peace. On the drive there I kept reminding myself, “Self, be joyful!” The idiots and morons on the highway was challenging my resolves. And once in the parking lot, there were those asinine people just sitting there, waiting for someone to leave so they could have a close parking place. They’re too lazy to walk, but not too lazy to fight like a barbarian for those specials.
Still, when I parked, my resolve was intact, a bit battered, but intact. I began the walk smiling and being joyful. (Yes, sometimes preachers do practice what they preach!) I made it a point to tell everyone “Merry Christmas” with a smile and sincerity in my voice. And, I must confess, I saw a change in people’s expressions when I am joyful toward them. (Hmm? Could it be something to this thing of sharing joy?)
Well, to make a short story long, I finally navigated several detours (because of people conducting family reunions, don’t get me started again) and like St. Nick, checked every item off my list and entered the next challenging level of holiday shopping—finding the check-out with the fewest people. Having conquered that level, I placed my items on the counter and thought about what a stressful day she must be having. So I started to engage the cashier in some cheerful conversation–God knows she needed it. Then she had the nerve to be cheerful to me first. Quite frankly, I don’t know how she managed it, but she did. When she asked me how I was doing, I thought, “Now, here’s a great opportunity to witness!”
What happened next was one of those moments when the Holy Spirit just blind sides us with grace and love. My reply to her (and I thought it a clever opening line), “I am blessed by the Lord.” And without missing a beat, her reply was “And highly favored!” The sound of joy in her voice when she said that was so uplifting to me (so much for me being a witness, in fact, I stopped witnessing and started be witnessed to). But what she said next, spoke so powerfully to me that I need to share it with you.
With the sound of holy laughter and joy in her voice, this lowly cashier said to me: “Too blessed to be stressed!” Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, my drive home was much more full of joy than my drive there, and it wasn’t because the adventure was over, but because God used an ordinary cashier to remind me what this wonderful season is all about—That We Are Too Blessed To Be Stressed!
Can you even imagine a portion of the stress that young Mary must have felt when Gabriel first announced God’s plan for her life? But Mary’s faith was able to override her emotions (and some might say logic) and her faith enabled her to become an instrument of God’s presence and His love, as I was reminded of God’s love and presence by that cashier.
Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said. Luke 2:42-45 (New Living Translation)
And in our text today, her cousin Elizabeth affirms God’s activity in Mary’s life with that power line in verse 45: You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said! And in response, Mary burst forth in song, like in a Broadway musical. Mary gave us the very first Christmas song as she sang praise for the presence, power and activity of God in her life. Mary was way too blessed to be stressed!
And so can you! When you believe that God will do what God has said that He will do in you, for you and through you, the blessing continues. So, as the countdown continues—more parties, more gatherings, more shopping, don’t get stressed out like I did. Be ready and be alert because God is going to break into your ordinary and sometimes stressful days with joy and love. For many people, they are too stressed to be blessed. You do not have to be one of them because of God’s presence and power. Open your eyes and hearts to see the ways God is blessing you.
Remember that this is Thursday–when I just throw stuff out there to see what sticks and what doesn’t stick. As I sit here in central Florida, far from the freezing temperatures of West Central Alabama, I admit it’s hard to focus on writing. But it has freed me up to do some “off-the-wall” thinking. I wonder if that is another one of my “spiritual” gifts, like snarkiness and sarcasm?
Somehow, this thought invaded me: Emotional Slothfulness. I looked up that word slothfulness and here is what I found:
sluggardly; indolent; lazy.http://www.dictionary.com
Indolent? What does this word mean? Well, here is what I discovered:
having or showing a disposition to avoid exertion;http://www.dictionary.com
Now you have a context for this week’s “Throw-It-Out-There-Thursday” words. Typically when thinking of being slothful, it seems to be limited to physical activity. I propose to you today, 12 December 2019, that people today are not only physically slothful, but they are also emotionally slothful. By this I do not mean that there is an absence of emotions today. Dear Lord, in heaven! That’s so not true!
By the term “Emotional Slothfulness” I refer to the fact that there is so much uncontrolled emotional reactions to what is happening in our culture. Instead of thinking and evaluating for themselves, they get caught up in the emotions of others. Just the other day some TwitFace, excuse me, that should have been “Twitter” was blasting away at the unfairness that every state gets 2 senators. They said it shows the Constitution is “just stupid”.
I look at our culture and I am reminded of a bird’s nest with newly hatched babies. Their mouths are wipe open waiting for Mother or Daddy to regurgitate something to put inside them. Then they are happy, until they need some more regurgitation. So many. . .TOO MANY today are too slothful to analyze situations and circumstances and thus rely on what someone, who someone else told them was the person to listen to, tells them to feel about…WHATEVER.
The result is wild and unrestrained emotions. And in that process, there are many casualties of emotional slothfulness, such as
- Common sense
If you can think of other casualties resulting from this emotional slothfulness, please add them in the Comments Section. Emotional Slothfulness isn’t the absence of emotions–that is known as Stoicism. Emotional Slothfulness is too much and unrestrained emotions. Emotions then become elevated to the status of Deity, and quite frankly, emotions are a poor deity to follow.
In short, they are too darn lazy to form their own emotions (from a well thought out conclusion), so they allow others to tell them how they should feel!
OK, I’m ready for the blast from the fundamentalists, churchians, tenured pew sitters and all those others who “think they know the Bible but only know what they’ve been told”. Have you ever believed something to be true, but it’s not really true? Case in point: Have you heard about The Patience Of Job? Many say, “Job teaches us HOW to be patient.”
Granted, chapters 1 and 2 can be seen as Job being patient, but as the late Paul Harvey would say, “Now, for the rest of the story.” To keep this from being extra long, I’ll just give you some examples:
- Chapter 3–He wishes he had been a stillborn infant, better yet, not even born.
- Chapter 6–It’s all God’s fault!
- Chapter 7–He has a death wish, and after he dies, God won’t know where he is, in essence, God will soon forget about him.
- Chapter 9–God doesn’t care if I’m guilty or innocent
- Chapter 10–God made me and now He wants to crush me.
- There’s more–read it for yourself!
I honestly can’t see how anyone can tell me, “You need to have the patience of Job!” My response will always be:
Now if all you fundamentalists, churchians, tenured pew sitters and all those others who “think they know the Bible but only know what they’ve been told” are fuming at me but still reading–maybe you will like this next part: Job Doesn’t Teach Us About Patience, But He Teaches Us Much About Faithfulness. Hear me out please!
Job is depressed, discouraged, and angry at God. Yet with all that depression, discouragement and anger at God–He cries out TO and FOR God. I mean, if you thought someone intentionally hurt you, would you turn to them to help heal those wounds? I didn’t think you would. Yet Job turns to the ONE He thought caused all of his suffering. So. . .what’s the great lesson Job does teach us?
Glad you asked that last question. Job teaches us the value and power of faithfulness. In Philip Yancey’s book Where Is God When It Hurts? gives the best definition of faithfulness I’ve ever heard. Faithfulness is crying out to God when everything inside you tells you to let go! Job had every logical reason possible to just let go and walk away from God. But he didn’t! Why? I think it was because somehow, Job still trusted God. He didn’t understand what was happening to him; he just thought he saw God was the cause behind it all. Yet Job somehow knew that if he was ever to be made whole again, it would happen in the presence of God.
Oh, one other thing. Job wanted to face God in a One-On-One Challenge. And when finally did show up–it was a challenge Job found out he didn’t really want. The one question God posed to Job that changed his song was this: “Are you God?” Job had some issues, but he brought every one of them to God. And though Job’s thinking was stinking, God healed and restored Job.
Job teaches me (and hopefully you, too) that I can be really honest in how I feel with God. If Job hadn’t brought his honest feelings to God, he would have continued to believe those feelings were truth, even though they weren’t. Don’t be patient like Job–Be Faithful Like Job!
Then you can love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And then all the glory will go to HIM!
Have we “sold out” to an earthly purpose for living in order to embrace a Divine Purpose for life?
He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?” But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “He’s just a carpenter—Mary’s boy. We’ve known him since he was a kid. We know his brothers, James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and his sisters. Who does he think he is?” They tripped over what little they knew about him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further. (Mark 6:1-3, The Message)
Going Out Of Business Sale! We see such signs so often that we don’t pay much attention to them (until it says “75-90% Off!”). But in an obscure dot on the map town like Nazareth, it was probably very noticeable. There on the corner of Jezreel Street and Cedars of Lebanon Lane was the Carpenter Shop. They always thought it would be there. His father ran it before him, as did his father. All assumed he would eventually get married (if Mary was any kind of a mother, he would) and his son would continue the family business. Need a new platter for Passover this year? Go to the Carpenter’s Shop. Chair broken because Uncle Jethro has a tendency to eat way too much charoset? Go to the Carpenter’s Shop. Need a new dining room suite? Well, you get the idea.
But then there is that sign: Going Out Of Business Sale! They wonder what could be more important than being a carpenter? But He knows! He knows his purpose is not to make oxen yokes, but to show humanity that His yoke is easy and his burden light. He knows his purpose is not to repair plow handles, but to show the world you don’t need to look back, but look forward to be a part of God’s Kingdom. He knew His purpose wasn’t to make dining room tables, but to build a table where all kinds of people are made to feel welcome, especially broken people; it is broken people who need the broken bread.
His purpose was not to make another platter for the roasted lamb at Passover, but to become the Passover Lamb and in one single act for all time and eternity to pay the penalty for our sin and folly. His purpose wasn’t found in the wood pile at the Carpenter’s Shop in Nazareth, but on two rough beams of wood on a hillside outside Jerusalem! He knew His purpose! And when he went to His home synagogue and those with whom He had lived with for nearly 30 years rejected His “new” vocation, He refused to give up.
And what about us? Have we “sold out” to an earthly purpose for living in order to embrace a Divine Purpose for life? Any vocation becomes a holy vocation when we do it with only one objective in mind: To make the love of Jesus known! Whether we are a cashier or construction worker, sales associate or security guard, a C.E.O. or a PTA Mom—each of us has the wonderful opportunity to make our vocations holy. It happens when we live our ordinary daily lives with the sense that God is with us and that He wants to use our ordinary life to express His love and grace in extraordinary ways. Go about your Monday (and Tuesday and Wednesday and…) not with a sense of dread (Oh Lord, it’s Monday) but with the sense of power that comes from purpose.
Now go and love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!