WHAT ARE THEY TEACHING???

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.

Romans chapter 8, verses 6-7; from the New Living Translation (NLT)

Recently I had a conversation with a fellow United Methodist clergy on Facebook. It was focused on a post this individual had made. It was surprisingly civil (up to this point)–still, I couldn’t help but think: What are they teaching now in United Methodist Seminaries? Here’s the screenshot of that comment:

This person compared understanding Scriptures to a 3-legged stool. The top is the Scriptures and the 3 legs are tradition, reason, and experience. Thus, without tradition, or reason, or experience, one cannot adequately understand Scripture. The primary (and often times “sole determining factor”) way to understand Scripture is through tradition, reason, and experience. Now, before you call me that dreaded “fundamentalist”, hear me out. We do not study the Scriptures in a vacuum. There are traditions. We all have experiences. And God created us to be able to reason, or think if you prefer.

But it seems that many of our clergy are using reason as the final determining factor. In other words, if it doesn’t make sense to us, or if the culture tells us something contrary, then we are free to change or ignore what the Bible clearly teaches. This is what many seminaries are teaching. Not all of them, mind you; but enough of them are and the result has been the dilution and devolution of the power of Scripture to guide us and form in us the life of Holiness demanded by God for His Image Bearers. Go back to the writer’s analogy of that three-legged stool.

The writer is correct in stating that for a three-legged stool to be secure enough to sit on, it needs all three legs. And, by implication, those 3 legs need to be the same length. Otherwise it is unstable. But do not overlook the other implication–that Scripture (the seat of that three-legged stool) cannot safely support us until all three of those legs are the same length. In other words, Scripture is to be formed by OUR traditions, experiences, and reasoning.

Can I be frank with you? I know, my name is Randy. But I need to be FRANK with you this morning. Using the writer’s analogy of that three-legged stool, when those who are supposed to be our Spiritual Leaders are taught that human reasoning overrides the Scriptures and that we need to change our beliefs about anything in the Bible, then the result is the chaos and soon to follow destruction of the United Methodist, and any other church that follows the same primrose path. And to my fundamentalist friends, if you allow your traditions to determine your beliefs about the Bible, then your three-legged stool is just as unsteady.

Hear me out! Yes, reason, tradition, and experience are helpful tools when it comes to understanding Scripture! But they do not determine what is THE TRUTH! The Truth is set by the Bible for all matters of faith, life, and conduct. But none of them gives us the permission to change The Standard clearly set in The Bible! From my perspective, many seminary professors took a bite of that apple Satan offered Eve and Adam, and unlike Eve and Adam who recognized the shame and mistake, they “reason” that the apple is good, and that Satan was right. Is there any doubts now as to why the United Methodist Tribe is imploding? It looks like that three-legged stool analogy doesn’t work after all.

BUT WHICH ONE WAS IT?

11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

Luke chapter 15, verses 11 and 12; from the New Living Translation (NLT)

The other day, The Spirit planted this thought in my mind and heart: But Which One Was It? Out of nowhere (actually it came directly from the Throne of Grace and HE who sits on it) I started thinking about what is commonly referred to as The Story Of The Prodigal Son. And I got to thinking, “Did Luke, who wrote this letter, really put a heading on this section that read The Story Of The Prodigal Son? Well, don’t most preachers give their message a title? It just goes to show how our thinking is influenced by HOW we think. When a writer sits down to write, they always put in chapter numbers and often titles. But Luke, and the rest of the writers didn’t write that way back then. In fact, (this may be a shocker to my fundamentalist friends), not only did they NOT put in chapter numbers as they wrote, they didn’t put in the verse numbers. These were devices added later on by editors and translators to assist the readers find a particular passage. Which only makes it a wonderful miracle that day Jesus opened the scroll of Isaiah and found the exact passage He wanted to use that day.

OK, OK, I’m turning into a professor of biblical studies. Let me get back on track. At some point, an editor added this heading for today’s passage: The Story Of The Prodigal Son. Notice, no “s”! Therefore, people assume only 1 of those sons was the Prodigal. Notice carefully what the Father did in this story: So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. Now notice that there’s an “s”. This means the youngest and the oldest received their portion of the estate. Are you clear on this point? Good! So, answer my question: Which one was the Prodigal? Write down your answer. Got it? Good! If you said it was the youngest son:

Did you assume that because the youngest left home that he is automatically the prodigal? Well, doesn’t the word “prodigal” mean “spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.”? As a matter of fact, it does. But listen very carefully–Jesus never used the word “prodigal”. This is a story about a Father who had 2 sons–neither of which He identified as “prodigal”. WE and others have given that designation–but not Jesus. So, what’s my point?

It’s rather simple: This “Father” had two sons, neither of which understood their Father at the beginning of the story. Both sons were lost; but only one ended up knowing he was lost. We know this because of the ending of the story:

28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

Luke chapter 15, verses 28 thru 30; NLT

The eldest son did not share the heart of his Father. Instead of being thankful for all the money that had been given to him at the beginning of the story, he chose to be ungrateful because his Father didn’t kill and bar-b-que a goat for him and his friends. Can you see it now? We can be lost in the “foriegn” land, wasting our resources on things that doesn’t fill us with life. Or we can be lost right here at home, lamenting that we never had a party with bar-b-que goat. So, which son–the youngest or the eldest–was the Prodigal?

Sure, the youngest “wasted” his inheritance of money. But the oldest wasted his inheritance of the values that his Father had tried to impress on them both. And in case you’re not connecting the dots–we can be just as lost at home, sitting in a church building every Sunday morning, as the person who goes out on Saturday night and parties like there is no tomorrow. If we waste what God has given us on the things that don’t really matter when it comes to The Kingdom Of God–then WE are just as much a “prodigal” as the youngest son in the story. I’ll end today’s musings right here. But be warned, I may take this thought about “wasting what God has given us on the things that don’t really matter when it comes to The Kingdom of God” at a later date. But for now, let me say: “Be very careful who you label as the prodigal!”

CAN IT GET ANY CRAZIER? yOU BETCHA!

I know I’ve spent a lot of time writing about my Tribal Chaos, but it’s time to get back to the rest of life. And for those who read my insights into our Tribal Chaos, don’t worry. I’ll get back to that later. But for now–let’s talk about this crazy culture. While checking up on the news I came across this–this–delirious, deragned, dippy, and diggy story. It comes out of Mountain View, California no less. A local principal called the police on a 4 year old because he came to school without a mask! (You can read the article here)

This young boy had what was described as developmental issues. The father was told to take his son from the school campus immediately or the police would be called. In spite of the father’s attempt to describe why his son could not wear a mask, the principal called for the police in the person of the School Resource Officer. Who, by the way, was very understanding–but he (the police officer) was handcuffed as to what he could do. So the father had to take his son back home–all because of a facemask, or lack thereof.

I don’t know about you–but this is absolutely bonkers! School is no longer a place to educate–but to indocrinate! Can you say Solyent Green? Maybe, George Orwell’s 1984? Listen, folks! As long as craziness like this is allowed to continue–it ain’t gonna get no better! Our law enforcement officers have more important things to do than act as bouncers for the latest wacky trend. There are real problems that need their attention. The assinine leaders of education have turned, and been allowed to turn because not enough spoke up, classrooms into indocrination camps. What’s next? Calling the police when a student rejects CRT? Or revisionists history? Let’s put education back where it belongs! A place of learning the 3Rs! And not the political BS! Shame on that principal! And a bigger shame on those who sit quiet on the sidelines like sheeple! This attempt at educating our kids is mediocrity at its worst form!

I hear a lot–I mean A LOT–of people complaining about the Walmart Self Checkout system. And if you would allow me to be blunt-honest with you, I would say that I ABSOLUTELY LOATHE that self checkout system. I don’t go to Walmart to become their unpaid cashier associate. And to make a bit of confession, I have used it before because of time restraints. But now I simply don’t go if I am under time retraints. Now I patiently wait in line for that lonely, single cashier (occasionally there are 2).

And that’s what got me to thinking–about people. No, not Walmart’s corporate board who made this horrible decision; the people, and in particular those poor souls who use the self checkout system. Every time I go in to our local Walmart I see several people using that system. Do they realize they are only adding to the corporate pockets more money and denying people a job? But they look like sheeple–you know–a cross between sheep and people.

So many, TOOO many people are choosing for themselves this Walmart kind of life. What am I ranting about? Look at that first word in the sign:

SELF! Our culture is putting the emphasis on SELF! What WE want. What WE deserve. How that WE are capable of figuring out this thing called life without any other help. And for God to help us out? Jeez Louise, we don’t need His help at all. We can do it ourself! And now we are being overwhelmed by a tsunami of consequences. Lives are being crushed and pushed around; only to be swept out to sea. I remember a song from my teenage years, “The Age Of Aquarius”! Well, 2022 is The Age Of Self-Aggrandizement!

REALITY CHECK! We can’t handle life by SELF! We need help–but not just any help. We don’t need Dr. Phil, or Oprah, nor the advice of Trevor Noah. And we really need to stop talking to ourselves in order to get sound advice. When we talk to ourselves like this, what we end up with is a lot of sound and very little advice. What we need is to look–look above this mess to the only ONE who took the chaos and created the earth and the universe. And for heaven’s sake–stop using the self checkout line at Walmart!

In my distress I called to the LORD,
and he answered me.

Psalm 120, verse 1; from the English Standard Version

WHERE’S THE CONNECTION?

Connections are important; very important! For example, if one is building a house it needs electricity, right? What if the electrician only ran the wire to the junction boxes but never connect the plugs and switches to the wire? Or, considering our current drought here, what if we ran some garden hoses to water the yard, flowers, or garden but never connected those hoses to a water faucet?

Connections are also essential for what today is being called “The Church”. Interestingly, in the beginning followers of Jesus weren’t called “The Church”; it was The Koinonia! It’s a Greek word that means a life that is shared together with commitment to each other and to our Lord, Jesus Christ! Connection is also an important word to us of the Wesleyan Family. But. . .what is it that needs to connect us? Alas, the answer to this question is what has broken my beloved Tribe and created this current hot mess in The United Methodist Church.

For our more progressive sisters and brothers, our connection is that God loves everyone. Sounds innocuous enough. How would we, or anyone, have hope without that unconditional Agape Love? But for our progressive sisters and brothers, this Agape Love means that if someone feels they need to live outside God’s Sexual Ethic (man/husband and woman/wife), then that’s perfectly OK. This belief and conviction they hold is framed around an unproven concept–that God created some of us to be gay, binary, or some other gender that our plumbing contradicts. Progressives want us who are convinced that The Koinonia is framed around The Truth of God’s Word (found in the Bible) to ignore The Truth and embrace this “new” understanding of human nature.

So, for the progressives, this situation and moment is framed around the LBGTQI community. But is it really? As I guide the two congregations I serve through this season of discernment, I am very clear to these congregations that our discussions are not to be about the LBGTQI community. And I refuse to be “in charge” of this season. I am not leading them to stay or to leave. Their decision isn’t about me, it’s all about the vision, ministry, and mission of these congregations; about where they can live faithfully to the God who has saved us and is calling us in His Mission!

So, what will we frame our future around? Progressives believe our connection is love. Us Orthodox folks believe our connectionion is The Truth. Consider what Paul told the Corinthian Koinonia as we frame our future:

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers [do not make mismated alliances with them or come under a different yoke with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership have right living and right standing with God with iniquity and lawlessness? Or how can light have fellowship with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial [the devil]? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?

2 Corinthians chapter 6, verses 14 and 15 from the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition

Now, Progressives will quickly say, “Hey! I’m a believer, too! You’ve taken Paul completely out of context. That doesn’t fit our situation!” But have I? Framing a connection outside of The Truth is like framing a house without nails or screws. It simply cannot stand. Read again the latter part of verse 14: For what partnership have right living and right standing with God with iniquity and lawlessness? Or how can light have fellowship with darkness?” Light and darkness do not, can not have a connection. It’s either one or the other.

My friends in the United Methodist Church–this is our moment to frame our future. What I am about to write will get me kicked out of the circle of fundamentalists–but I’m saying it anyway! I am strongly opposed to any discrimination against LBGTQI persons in the secular places. They should not be discriminated in the workplace–nor in their Constitutional Rights. If they want to be “legally” married, I will defend their right to do so. But I will not perform the ceremony. Besides, in Alabama all one needs is a notary public to sign and to put their seal on a document; if your state laws do not allow this, then all a person has to do is get online, fill out a form, and become qualified. You see, I’m this weirdo who doesn’t mix up or confuse my patriotism to my Walk with Jesus.

And while this should be allowed (not to be discriminated against) in our legal system, it does not mean that it should be OK in The Koinonia! Trying to frame our Connection around accepting any sexuality outside of The Biblical Ethic, just doesn’t work. It hasn’t ever worked. Nor will it ever work! So, if you want a better future, make sure your frame that future around the Unchanging Truth Of God’s Word. You see, there is NO Connection between right living and wrong living.

SO TELL ME WHY, TELL ME WHY, WE’RE DIVIDED?

10 I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 11 For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. 12 Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not!

1 Corinthians chapter 10, verses 10-13 from the New Living Translation

Today’s title is from a line in a song by contemporary artist Mandisa. The name of the song is We All Bleed The Same. (Click here to listen to the song) Everyone’s blood is red. However, it seems our culture has forgotten this simple truth. Some think others blood is blue or red; progressive or orthodox; American or foreigner; black or white or some other color; educated or uneducated. And the list goes on an nauseam. It’s this kind of stinking thinking that is literally shattering this nation and the world.

So, tell me why, tell me why, we’re divided? Well, since you asked me, I’ll tell you why. People are looking inward rather than upward. Even those who say they are following Jesus are not exempt from this cancer. The world was in an evolutionary direction–meaning we were able to achieve more and greater things. But instead of evolving, our culture is devolving in a cauldron of something between swamp water and what you see in a septic tank. All of this is happening before our eyes because so many have turned their thoughts and desires inwardly rather than upwardly.

In an attempt to add value to their lives, people have become selfish, egotistical, pompous, narcissistic, puffed-up, and vainglorious monsters. And look at the mess this descent has made. But before I sound like Chicken Little proclaiming that the sky is falling–there is a way out of this hot mess. And it’s really simple–as are all principles of the Bible. Care more for others than you care about yourself. It doesn’t take a large mass of people doing this simultaneously–all it takes is one person. And that one person is you.

Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Philippians chapter 2, verses 2 through 4; from the New Living Translation

JUST THROW IT AWAY AND FORGET ABOUT IT!

For my fellow United Methodists, I don’t have to tell you we are nothing but The Denominational version of the Titanic. If you are a United Methodist and don’t know what I’m talking about, “SHAME ON YOU! GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SAND!” Why? Because this problem isn’t going away. And we cannot remain true to our Wesleyan heritage as long as This Problem exists. They (meaning Progressives, or as I prefer to call them, ‘ProAgressives’) want–nay DESIRE–nay again–they are DETERMINED to throw out the Bible and our Orthodox faith like yesterday’s trash. They “know” more than what The Bible clearly says–and for more than the Saints who sought and fought to preserve the Orthodox Faith. In case you may not be familiar with the word Orthodox (because it is a big word like mahogany), perhaps these synonyms will help you understand it better.

from http://www.thesaurus.com

Three of them in particular fit the bill to understand what I mean by the Orthodox Faith: authoritative, buttoned down, and by the numbers! But. . . there are those in this Tribe I have been a part of for over 66 years who are convinced (or should I say deceived) that the tried and proven truth about sexual ethic of the Bible is. . .well. . .just plain wrong. Jesus was all about the love, they claim. And they claim that only 2 genders, male and female, are way too restrictive for people to really be who they are. So, they’ve added 72 additional gender designations. Forget the science, forget the biology, and forget Genesis chapter 2. And forget how our stance on sexuality has been unchanged since 1972. It states that all people stand equally in need of God’s grace. However, the practice of homosexuality is incompatable with Christian teachings–i.e.–the orthodox faith. Homosexuality is not any worse than any other sin–but it is outside God’s design and thus it is a sin–along with that long litany of stuff that puts all of us outside of God’s Desgin.

And now to this past week–and it shows how far my beloved Tribe has wandered. According to our approved procedures and rules, no self avowed practicing homosexual can be licensed, commissioned, nor ordained. To assure fidelity to the Bible and our procedures, we have this group called The Board Of Ordained Ministry. Some call it the BOOM or BOM for short. In the most recent session of the Florida Annual Conference, their BOOM recommended 16 candidates to be commissioned on the path to full ordination. Of the 16, two admitted that they were self-avowed practicing homosexuals–clearly in violation of The Bible and our rules. However, the Florida BOOM approved them. But they still needed 3/4 of the ordained clergy to give final approval. And the stuff hit the fire.

What Bishop Ken Carter and the Florida BOOM did was to put all 16 candidates in a single vote. As a group, vote up or down. Now, in fairness, I do not know that the other 14 candidates met the requirements. However, we do know that 2 did not! And the resulting firestorm has been aimed at the 27.3% who voted against the 16 because Bishop Carter would not allow them to vote on the candidates one by one. 27.3% voted according to their ordination vows and the Bible, and now they are the villians. So, the 27.3% who acted in the same spirit as Joshua and Caleb (see the story of the 10 spies) are treated with great disdain and anger.

And a fellow blogger joins in the disdain and anger, Rev. Jim Harnish. You can read his blog here. Jim asserts that the orthodox faith is invalid because, well because we are such more enlightened. And during the eventual commissioning and ordaining service, Bishop Ken Carter apologized to that group with these words:

“I grieve the harm you have experienced.
I am committed to the support of your callings …

I would have gladly commissioned each of you, and gladly appointed each of you …

Bishop Ken Carter

So, Bishop Carter would have gladly thrown away both the Bible and our Discipline. Whether that’s what he meant or not, this is exactly what he was saying and doing. And to my fellow Brother Jim I say that simply because you have changed your views about The Bible and our Discipline, a Discipline you promised you would faithfully follow when you were ordained, doesn’t mean you are right. I am grieved that you would allow culture to define your faith rather than allow God’s Word to Transform the culture. And thus, we see the 21st Century version of the Titanic raising her bow in preparation for sinking. I am not angry–I am sad–and I am disappointed that there are those who will abandon John Wesley’s passion to be people of “homo unius libri.” (a people of One Book!)

To candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my heart. I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be “homo unius libri.”

John Wesley (June 17, 1706-March 2, 1791)

Footnote: Though I am saddened, maligned by others, accused of quitting and giving up–I am still praying and hopeful that this blight and disorder–this cancerous lie–can be put in it’s rightful place. Back to hell where it came from and where it belongs! Furthermore, I am confident that the Wesleyan desire for renewal and revival is not dead on this earth. The signs are everywhere. And if our leadership in the UMC doesn’t have a change of heart–it will happen with another people–NOT in the UMC!

DON’T BE RED! AND DON’T BE BLUE!

It is so sad, so very sad! And when I think about it I am a mixture of angry, snarky, frustrated, and just want to sit down and cry! What could make me feel like this? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s Red and Blue! That’s what makes me want to slap some people–make that–MANY people on the back of the head. This once great nation is now divided along the lines of color. Not the color of their skin–but the color of their politics. I’m beginning to see the movie The Matrix more as a prophetic statement on our current times than just a movie.

This once mighty nation where people of all sorts lived together, worked together, and rallied together–this nation where people once knew we could disagree with each other but not be enemies–has deteriorated into maps that are colored by either Red or Blue. Then sections of each state are by means of an idiopathic process, are determined to be either Red or Blue. And it seems that right and wrong are determined by which pill, Red or Blue, that one chooses to swallow!

And what infuriates and saddens me the most is when those who “claim” to be Christians join in the cry to choose either Red or Blue. But then this morning I read The Verse of the Day from Bible Gateway. And my focus and perspective changed–for the better. And today, God moved whoever determines the Verse of the Day to make this the passage:

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.

Philippians chapter 3, verse 20 NLT emphasis mine

See, we aren’t neither Red or Blue–our citizenship is in God’s Kingdom. Listen to me, followers of Jesus: you don’t have to act like a Red or Blue Pill! In fact, you better not act like a Red or Blue pill. There’s a better way to change our culture and lead our nation forward. It’s remembering where our citizenship and loyalty lies: with Jesus and The Kingdom. Here’s what the root word from the Greek translated here as “citizens” means:

And notice that last entry under Outline of Biblical Usage: to conduct one’s self as pledged to some law of life. This law of life isn’t in the Red or Blue pill. It’s found in our relationship with Jesus. Politics leads and ends in frustration and ultimately devastation. But as citizens of God’s Kingdom, following Jesus through thick and thin leads us to goodness, peace, and joy now (Romans chapter 14 verse 17) and ultimately it will lead us to the very throne of God! Now, don’t you think that’s better than swallowing a Red or Blue Pill?

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

SEEKING BUT IT’S STILL HIDDEN!

 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.

Matthew chapter 6 verse 33 from the New Living Translation

Ever heard the expression, “There’s a storm on the horizon!”? I’m no meteriologist, but I’m telling you it’s NOT on the horizon–but it’s already upon us. It’s all around us and it ripping our culture into unrecognizable pieces! And it ain’t going away anytime soon! It’s a Category 12 hurricane, an F-22 tornado, and a tsunami mashed up together and it’s destroying the human race. Contrary to the view from the left–it’s not global warming! Excuse me, the term is now climate change (I guess it’s because the polar caps aren’t melting as fast as they claimed).

The Storm is all about Truth–rather that distinct and discernable ABSENCE of THE Truth! Truth has been relegated and demoted to how one feels and thinks. Even the science of biology has been defrocked and dishonored by those who say gender is determined by feelings. “Holy Cow, Batman! What are we going to do now?” Great question, Robin! What device or weapon does Batman have on his Bat Belt that will get rid of this Storm? But alas, poor Yorick, no such device exists. But. . .could it be there is still hope for our culture? If you listen to churchians and tenured pew sitters the answer is a resounding NO! But they ain’t worth listening to! They are just like politicians running for election or re-election–full of des conneries!

People are trying in vain to seek truth–and more they seek? Well, the more miserable they become! Instead of giving up the fruitless and pointless search through what they think and feel–they persist! They are looking for a life filled with purpose and meaning. But their thinking and feeling keeps that PEACE hidden. And anyone who offers a different opinion? Well, they are called mean, ugly, and if it’s Kingdom People talking–they are full of hate. And it’s all because of The Truth!

There is a solution–a path forward–that will dissipate this calamitous Storm. It’s so simple that most folks cannot see it so they trip right over it. It’s child’s play, really! All it requires is our embrace and commitment to the above words of Jesus! SEEK GOD’S KINGDOM AND WHAT HE SAYS IS RIGHT FIRST! And to seek God’s Kingdom and what HE says is right–we all have to begin with this single thought: “I may be wrong about what I think and what I feel!” And while our culture keeps right on seeking but never finding, WE, who are unashamed and unafraid to be called Disciple of Jesus, Citizens Of The Kingdom Of God, (notice, I didn’t mention the word “church”) must become and BE examples of what it means to Seek and Find what is hidden to so many. And that, my friends, is The Truth.

Remember that old TV series “The X-Files”? There is a line that is famous from the show. “The truth is out there,” says Scully, before following up with “but so are lies”.  Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

AND IT’S CRAZY OUT THERE FOLKS! ABSOLUTELY CRAZY!

Warning: This is NOT about life in The Kingdom. But it is about life, and death, as it is right now. It may be offensive to some. You have been warned!

Yesterday I was reading some news online from back home when I came across this story, about some locals who were up for parole. In one situation, the inmate up for parole was convicted of manslaughter. His defense for shooting the man was “self-defense”. But get this–he shot the victim 6 times! 3 times in the chest. Twice in the back. And once in the victim’s hand. But–it was self-defense! And as crazy as this sounds, the jury bought hook, line, and sinker the charge of manslaughter, rather than second-degree murder. Three times in the chest, twice in the back–and for it to be manslaughter it means there was no malice aforethought. Geeze, Louise! What’s this world coming to?

I’ll tell you what it’s come to–the value of human life is, for all practical purposes, is worth very little! But then what should I expect when an unborn baby can be thrown away like yesterday’s garbage? The careless monster of callousness gathered steam January 23, 1973 when the Supreme Court determined that “Jane Roe” had the right, without government restrictions, to end the life of a baby. So, it only follows the path of least resistence that when the most vulnerable are considered worthless, it won’t be long until all forms of human life are considered worthless.

It appears to me that Darwin’s Theory of the Survival of the Fittest isn’t an explanation of the past–but a prophesy about the future. And that future is right now. The only human being that other human beings care about is themselves. Freud’s concept of ego and super-ego are tame when compared to the narcissism of many people today. Many want a paycheck but they don’t want the work that goes with earning it. The Zombie Apocalyse isn’t about a bunch of corpses walking around looking for brains to eat. It’s people who have their eyes and nose stuck in their cell phone and pad–checking how many likes and followers they can get. Talk about pompous–well never mind. I won’t use that word. To call them that is an insult to all proctologists everywhere.

Fortunately, I know a lot, I mean A LOT of great and kind people. And reading stories like the aforementioned only makes me appreciate them more. But folks, our culture is in real danger of self-destruction. Only God and His committed people can stem the tide of this disaster. And that’s the way it is, May 24, 2022!

HOW LONG?

On Saturday, a young man, filled with hate, thoughtlessly took the lives of 10 people and wounded 3 more in Buffalo, New York. Sunday, as people were enjoying a meal after worshipping God, a man walked in and thoughtlessly took one life and critically injured 4 more people. At a busy flea market in Houston. Texas, 5 young men had an “altercation” and the result was that 2 were dead and 3 were critically wounded. And these were not the only incidents this past weekend. So, I ask again: How long, o people of God?

  • How long will you choose to turn a blind eye to Satan’s rampant attacks and attack those who have been captured and seduced by Satan rather than fighting the spiritual war that is all around us?
  • How long will you choose to blame this, that, and the other rather than getting involved with the people in your communities by getting to know them? Love them?
  • How long will you cry out for Jesus to return rather than helping others see how much they need Jesus by seeing how much YOU need Jesus?
  • How long will you choose being “comfortable” at “your” church rather than finding ways to relate to the people around your “sacred” building?
  • How long will you choose to be culturally relevent rather than standing on God’s Word alone, even if you are laughed at?
  • How long will you be spiritually lethargic rather than seeking the power of the Holy Spirit to fight against Satan and his minions?
  • How long before you stop quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14 and start BEING a 2 Chronicles 7:14 people?
  • How long before you earnestly pray for a great awakening and revival in our land?

How long, o people of God, before you start doing these things, and much more? This morning my heart cries and is breaking for all the victims from this weekend, and every other day. I pray that yours is, too! But having our hearts broken and shedding the tears of grief and compassion is not enough. Never has been enough. Never will be enough. God is in the business of redemption–places, situations, cultures, people! His plan is to make this happen through His People! So, I ask you again: How long, o people of God? How long?

HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR DECISIONS?

Making decisions is the most important decision you can ever make! But to make more than good decisions–you need to make GREAT decisions. But to make a decision you need a source that will shape and form that decision. And it needs to be a tried, tested, and proven source; unchanged by time. An ever changing source leads, always leads, to poor choices. This scene from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade bears it out.

For example, the Supreme Court of the United States. They are preparing to undo a flawed decision made 22 January 1973 with Roe v. Wade. The SCOTUS at that time ruled that abortion was a constitutionally guaranteed right. But there’s nothing in the U.S. Constitution that guarantees it. So, it is about to be overturned. Now, before my Fundamentalist friends declare that abortion is unconstitutional, that’s not what this Court is about to declare. Their decision, and a right one I might add, is that abortion is a state and legislative issue, not a constitutional issue. Bravo, SCOTUS, bravo! About time the Tenth Amendment is recognized. Enough about the SCOTUS.

Today’s culture wants to make decisions based on feelings and how they think. Forget the proven science–each decision is a matter of personal preferences and how one feels. If you feel a certain way, then you make your decisions based on that feeling or that thinking. Remember my earlier comment about having a source for making great decisions? That source needs to be anchored to an unchanging truth. Feelings are subject to change more than the weather. And about our way of “thinking”? Well, thinking is always influenced by information. Unfortunately many are using flawed and untruthful information. (Go back and watch that scene from the above and what happened to Walter Donnovan)

What about you? What is the source for your decisions? Anything that is tethered to human logic and thinking is flawed. Always flawed. Think about it. Have you ever bought something and when you got home and opened it up, you discovered that it didn’t work! Why do you think there are so many automobile repair shops?

What you need to make GREAT decisions is the most reliable and greatest source ever: The Bible! Not what people say about The Bible. But what the Bible really says. The Apostle Paul reminded young Timothy of this by writing in 2 Timothy, chapter 2, verses 16-17: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

And when (not IF) you can’t or don’t understand The Bible, God has an app for that! It was developed by James, the biologically half-brother of Jesus and the full brother of Jesus by faith. He wrote in James chapter 5, verses 5 and 6: If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Remember the words from William the Lion, Duke of Brittany in the movie The Last Crusade: Choose Wisely! And yes, the picture is of my Go-To Bible!

BOOTS!

Blog

This morning The Spirit has me thinking about boots.  To be more specific, the first pair of boots I bought—and the several pairs thereafter.  I was looking primarily at the price point.  Oh, I saw all those others, but I was focused on the price.  That was my focus—forget how they looked.  And forget how they felt on my feet.  Then—then I discovered Ariats®.  The comfort and durability of those boots were amazing.  I could have bought 3 pair of those other boots for the price of that first pair.  Now I have 3 pairs of Ariats.

I have a “Sunday Go To Meeting” pair, an everyday pair, and a pair of hiking boots for those rare occasions when it’s a little cold here in Alabama.  Normally, I refuse to pay high prices for anything!  But we found a great source for boots (and clothes) on one of our semi-annual trips to Florida.  Between Montgomery and Troy, Alabama is a place called Sikes and Kohn.  This was where I discovered the comfort of Ariats® and at a price I could afford!

On our most recent return from Florida I told Debbie that I needed a new pair of everyday boots.  I’ve been wearing my everyday pair for over 7 years.  Though they were still comfortable—still I needed a new pair.  So we stopped.  As I was looking through the Ariats® I noticed another brand, Twisted X®.  A couple of our grandsons wear them, so I gave them a try.  Finding a style I liked (remember, I’m going after comfort AND style, not price), I walked up and down the aisle, and loved them.  So I paid the very reasonable price for them. (see the above picture!)  Now I have 2 brands of boots to choose from.  Sweet!

What does all my rambling about the price, style, and comfort of boots have to do with The Kingdom Life?  Simple!  So many today are seeking what Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls “cheap grace”.  Here’s a man who knows the difference between “cheap grace” and “real grace”.  Bonhoeffer was hanged April 9, 1945 in a Nazi concentration camp at Flossenbürg.  It wasn’t long after that the camp was liberated by Ally Forces.  Here’s what Bonhoeffer has to say about “cheap grace”.

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

And we see so much of this today.  If I wanted to wear a pair of boots that was comfortable and in a style that looked good, then I had to give up the cheap bargain rack.  And if we want to experience the peace and power of Christ living in us, then we have to abandon the cheap bargain rack.  To be a “Christian”, or as I prefer to say, “a real disciple and follower of Jesus”, then we have to come to Jesus on His terms.  Cheap grace cheapens what Jesus did for us in His suffering and on that Cross.

Cheap grace, like cheap boots, may be affordable, but it fails to deliver the life our heart longs for, and the life Jesus died to provide for us sinners.  Remember, Bonhoeffer died not for cheap grace—but for real grace.  Yes, Jesus paid the full price for our sins.  But if we are going to follow Him and learn from HIM, then we have to also pay a price.  And it’s this:

23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way (that’s cheap grace), take up your cross DAILY, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 

Luke chapter 9, verses 23 and 24 from the New Living Translation

So, love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Him!  And cheap grace does not bring Him glory!

RIPPING APART AT THE SEEMS!

The fabric of our culture is being ripped apart at the seems. And please don’t call the Grammar Police that I have used the wrong word. It’s the correct word. I wrote what I meant and I meant what I wrote. SEEMS! Here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. the fabric of our society is being ripped to shreads at the seems. I came upon this thought through remembering a certain passage from The Bible. In fact, it’s been roaming around in my gray matter for several days. Here is is:

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

Proverbs chapter 14 verse 12 from the New Living Translation

Some might think it’s amazing that a book as old as Proverbs can be so relevant to these times. But it’s not really amazing to me. These books of The Bible continue to be both timeless and timely. But let’s get back to those seems. Consider this:

  • It seems right to the LBGTQI culture that if society just accepted them, they would be happy.
  • It seems right to the gay community that if they could just get married like any heterosexual couple they would be happy.
  • It seems right to the project manager since their assistant is so capable to let them do all the work and they take all the credit.
  • It seems right that since that other person is so good looking, that a night in the sack is OK.
  • It seems right that if they child shows up for the games they should get a participation trophy.
  • It seems right that since they have a college degree they should start at the top.
  • It seems right that since that drug helps take away their stress they should reach for it.
  • It seems right that since a child would impede their lifestyle and goals, an abortion is the right choice.
  • It seems right that the government should be responsible for us from craddle to grave.
  • It seems right that if someone doesn’t agree with you that they must then hate you.
  • It seems right ad nauseam…

Now before you Tenured Pew Sitters finish saying, “Amen! You tell them Preacherman!” Let’s look at our church culture.

  • It seems right that Jesus should just come back and take us good ones on to our reward, since this world will never change.
  • It seems right that if the church could just go back to the good old days, we could stop the hemorrhaging members and doors closing.
  • It seems right that if their church started catering to them, then all the problems would go away in their church.
  • It seems right the church’s sole job is to point out the sins of others.
  • It seems right that everyone in their church should dress a certain way, think a certain way, and believe a certain way.
  • It seems right that the church should only help those who deserve it.
  • It seems right that they should only sing the songs they like.
  • It seems right ad nauseam…

It seems that many, too many people, are living by the seems–and life is ripping apart at the seems. And then Proverbs Chapter 14 Verse 12 proves itself to be absolutely true. What seems to be true is proven false by life itself. And things begin to rip apart, at the seems. This is life without God–life without Jesus as BOTH Savior AND Lord. Contrary to the opinion of alleged experts, we are simply not qualified, and certainly not capable, of determining what is right and what is wrong.

But there is an alternative and it’s the only one who will keep our lives from falling apart at the seems. It’s really simple and easy–that is–if we can get over ourselves. We find it in another book of The Bible. It’s in Matthew chapter 11, verses 28 and 29:

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

from the New Living Translation

The word yoke doesn’t refer to the kind worn by oxen and mules. It’s about the Teaching Of The Rabbi. Back then what Rabbis taught was called The Yoke. And if you think the teaching of Jesus is too hard and difficult (because He did say: Be holy as I Am holy), read these words again. But this time from a different Translation:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

from The Message

Be and become whom God made you to be and become, and NOT what seems right to you. You and our society will be and become something so much better. Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!

RIDICULOUS!

It’s a crazy, crazy world! Or is it? Looking at the above snyonyms I am forced to conclude that it’s NOT crazy–but Ridiculous! I mean, how preposterous is it that good olf fashion science has been replaced by feelings? Yet this current culture wants to emphasize feelings over reality! Isn’t it ludicrous to ignore eons of scientific advance in favor of how one feels? How silly is it to abandon the facts of biology and pursue a life built around how one feels? It’s absurd to even contemplate that human beings are more capable to make important decisions based on feelings rather than scientific fact. It’s just plain

We see and hear this every day with increasing frequency! Even the truth can’t be told today without being accused of being mean, vicious, ugly, phobic, and full of hate. Here’s just one example from many that bears this out: Gender! Eons of biological facts have testified and verified that if one has a penis they are male and if they have a vagina they are female! (What? A preacherman using the words penis and vagina? Ridiculous!) This is the way it is–with the rare exception of a genetic abnormality of hermaphroditism, being born with both genatalia. It’s estimated that 1.7 percent of people are born with this condition. This can be blamed on Adam and Eve–along with tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and a plethera of natural disasters. Not only did Adam and Eve fall, so did all of creation! Oops, I am off-track. Back to my original thoughts.

Now days the number of genders has grown beyond two! One site on the World Wide Wacky Web says there are 72 different genders. Now, let me be very, very clear on this point I am making. I do not blame any of those who identify with any of those 72 alleged genders. If anything, my heart breaks for them. You see, they have been lied to! They are being told to ignore basic scientific law and replace it with how they feel. I blame those who promote and encourage this pseudo-science–all in the name of trying to make people feel better about themselves. And this attempt has utterly failed and created a culture of unhappy people that want to and actually blame their misery on us who just so happen to believe in the science and The Bible. (Yes, Virginia, you can embrace both factual science and The Bible.)

So, what are we to do? We who embrace the science and The Bible? We cannot afford to be silent–for the sake of the misguided. We can’t allow being called homophobic, xenophobic, mean, and hateful stop us from speaking the truth–In Love! Face the truth, some people are ugly and hateful towards the deceived. And this must stop IMMEDIATELY! There are ways to be both gracious and truthful–firm and loving–at the same time. Don’t allow their hate to make your hateful. And don’t allow their anger create anger in you! Feelings will never trump truth. Never!

SPEAKER PHONE CULTURE

(Pic from memesmonkey.com)

Annoying, isn’t it! Or is it just me? Whether it’s out shopping, eating, or just walking in a public place. They seem to be everywhere–even in waiting rooms. Excuse me, but neither myself nor the people around you are interested in your phone call. Well, maybe there are a couple of nosey people who want to know. Come to think of it, without a doubt there are some nosey people wanting to listen in–but I’ll save my snark and sarcasm for another blog.

This has become more than an everyday occurence–it’s reached an epidemic proportion. And quite frankly, no pharmaceutical company can find a cure nor vaccine to fight this horrid plague. Why? Why? Why? A lack of thinking through? A lack of common courtesy? A lack of common sense? Or could it be they are just take a sadistic pleasure in the annoyance? Probably all four, with a heavy leaning towards the last reason. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes chapter 3, verse 1: “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth.” (The Message). And as we read that list, you won’t find an opportune time to use that speaker phone in public! OK, so Solomon didn’t know what a cell phone is, but if he did, trust me when I say that he wouldn’t have included the cursed speaker phone in that list.

But there’s another side to this issue that the Spirit has shown me this morning! It has nothing to do with cellularized contraptions. It has everything to do with how we are to live as citizens of the Kingdom. Some seem to think that it’s about looking good and holy on the outside. Can anyone say “Pharisee”? Others seem to think it’s an inward and personal thing to be kept inside. But…Why? Why? Why? Why does it have to be one or the other? It doesn’t.

Ever heard the saying “Actions speak louder than words?” But the opposite is also true–sometimes words speak louder than actions. Sometimes that’s a good thing–when we share the story of God’s Grace in our lives–provided our story is backed up by our actions. There will be moments we need to reveal our Grace Story with our words. But without the obvious actions that accompanies our Grace Story, our words are just as annoying as those poor, pitiful, and pathetic souls who use the speaker phone in public places. Yes, someone needs to hear my Grace Story–AND your Grace Story. Our Grace Story doesn’t have to be a “made for TV true life story”–it just has to be real and genuine.

To be a Kingdom Witness it takes both actions and words! Those first disciples were Kingdom Witnesses because they had their experiences with God’s Grace and they both showed and told with words their Personal Story Of God’s Grace. And their words carried weight because their actions verified what they were saying! So, stay off the speaker phone in public–but let your Grace Story be seen by others–and then you will have the opportunity to tell in your own words, what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do in your life.

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.

1 John Chapter 3 Verses 18 and 19 (New Living Translation)

DENSE FOG ADVISORY

Dense Fog Advisory! Sometimes this warning shows up on our weather app; sometimes the local meterologist tells us that; and sometimes–well–it’s obvious! Am I right? Do we really need an app or the local weather person tell us this when it’s so obvious? Are there really people out there who don’t know there’s dense and dangerous fog out there unless an app tells them? (Heavy, heavy, heavy sigh here) It grieves me deeply to say this–But, Yes! Absolutely there are people out there who don’t know there’s a dense fog out there unless someone tells them! There was a season when this thought made me angry. And now? It makes me sad and literally breaks my heart.

It’s not just the weather fog people cannot see–there’s a denser fog out there that’s more dangerous than the fog those apps warn us about; it fact–there’s a myriad of fogs that will cause bigger crashes that the fog on the highways. There’s the political fog that is so dense and many cannot see the danger right in front of us. I’m not singling out “a” political pary–it’s ALL OF THEM! Then there’s that cultural fog where people think they can think for themselves, resulting in norms that are twisted beyond intelligent reasoning. There’s that moral fog that deceives the person into thinking they can do whatever they want and escape the consequences. There’s what I call the family fog–where parents want to be their kids friend rather than their parent–where fathers and mothers are missing in action. I could go on, but hopefully (unless you are in a dense fog of your own) you see my point.

Where do all these fogs come from? Glad you asked this question because I have the answer. It’s that Spiritual Fog! People will disagree about anything and everything. One sees one thing and another sees another thing and another sees yet another thing and–it goes on ad nauseam–and the fog gets thicker and thicker and thicker. Imagine, if you will, morning commuters driving in a dense fog at the same speeds as a bright, sunny morning. The dense fog doesn’t seem to phase them. But sooner or later–more likely to be sooner–what they don’t think is in front of them–IS in front of them–and the chain reaction wreck begins. More cars and trucks plow into the mess–and when the fog clears? Carnage and devastation appears.

Without a set in stone foundation for our lives, what happens on highways and interstates happens to people, families, communities, and corporations. But we do not have to live in a spiritual fog because we have God’s Word, otherwise known as The Bible. Every issue of life is addressed in The Book! But more and more have turned their backs on The Book. Why? Well, The Book tells us why–THE BOOK that so many think is irrelevent and unreliable. The Book tells us in Proverbs chapter 14, verse 12–“There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” (NLT) The Message makes it even clearer: “There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell.” When we think we know everything, WATCH OUT! And when you recognize the dense spiritual fog all around–there’s an app for that–we call it The Bible. Turn to The Book! Run to The Book! And ask The Teacher (The Holy Spirit) to help you–and He will!

READING THE POLITICAL SIGNS

The signs are popping up everywhere–political signs, that is. Here in Alabama it’s campaign season for the primaries. The signs are popping up faster than buttercups this time of year. And all of them are telling us that they have read the signs of government, and that they are the ones to correct the mess. Forget that politicians created our hot mess, still there will be more who will promise to fix the political messes. I’m just a country boy, but isn’t that like hiring the fox to guard the chicken house???

Spin is the trade word they use. Just recently our POTUS declared that the economy is stronger than it’s been in over 4 decades. Excuse me, Mr. President, but nearly double digit inflation, supply chain problems, tons of people who are content to be paid by the government to stay at home rather than work, and gas prices that are rising more than homemade cathead biscuits doesn’t sound like a strong economy. But if a politician declares our economy to be stronger than the past 4 decades–then it must be so, right?

Apparently politicians have a problem reading the signs. They obviously have problems comprehending what is happening. But it’s not just politicians who can’t read the signs. As much as I would love to blame the politicians for this hot mess–the real cause is the voters. After all, they are the ones who put these knuckleheads in office, at least the majority of the voters. Many voters allow the news media determine who is the best poitician. And many simply don’t vote. And now EVERYONE is reaping the whirlwind of leaders ineptitude at reading the signs. As bad as this sound, there’s something even worse–now that ought to scare the you-know-what out of anyone.

Voters will not take the time nor effort to research the candidates for themselves! Folks, stop listening to the dribble of the news media and learn to read the signs for yourself. And all you folks who will NOT go to the polls? Get off your duff and get involved. Support and vote for even that candidate whom the news media has declared doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell! Friends, we have before us the opportunity to right this ship known as the good, old U.S. of A. And if you don’t like your choices at the primaries, then next time become one of those candidates, or encourage someone you think is a great alternative to the sewage that is out there. Only God keeps His promises! And do politicians keep their promises? Well. . .just read the signs!

IF A CLUTTERED DESK IS THE SIGN OF A CLUTTERED MIND, WHAT’S THE SIGN OF AN EMPTY DESK?

Never in a thousand centuries would I have imagined that I would remember anything from one of Dr. Well’s Old Testament class at Birmingham-Southern. Well, it’s not from his class–it was the sign on his office desk: If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what’s the sign of an empty desk? Well, his desk was the epitome of cluttered. But I am not judging him–you should see my workspace! On second thought–you shouldn’t! And this morning I found myself thinking about all the cluttered thinking seen in our culture.

For example, recently a young man choose to carjack someone–who happened to be armed. The young man was shot and killed, and a family member stated on the local news that the driver shouldn’t have shot him and should be arrested for murder. Cluttered Thinking. Parents are allowing, even encouraging adolesent children choose their gender rather than allowing biology to do what it does. Cluttered Thinking.

And in my own Tribe (the United Methodist Church), this year our governing Conference of United Methodists from around the world are to convene and the biggest issue is deciding that it’s time to depart ways–it’s called The Protocol For Separation. It’s been postponed since 2020 because of this COVID mess. But travel from foreign countries is being allowed if the traveler has been vaccinated. Well, in some regions, limited funds have prevented people from being vaccinated. In order to enable UMC delegates from other nations to attend this General Conference, an orthodox group of United Methodists began a plan to vaccinate those delegates–without regard to how they stand on the Protocol issue.

Good thing, right? But our more progressive kinfolk are outraged by this act of kindness. Their thinking says, “No one should be vaccinated until everyone can be vaccinated!” See, cluttered thinking! Why all of this cluttered thinking in every arena of life? Because there is no single standard for The Truth! Everyone is encouraged to choose “their” truth! Without an absolute Truth, human thinking remains cluttered–and it will only get worse! It’s like roadside litter–if someone or some group doesn’t clean it up–it only gets worse.

What I can’t understand is why those with cluttered thinking cannot see the devastation and destruction they are creating and encouraging! It’s like they are saying, “OK, it’s a mess right now–but if we just keep on thinking our way, then eventually we will figure it out!” God’s Word alone–not our interpretations of it–but God’s Word alone must be The Absolute when it comes to how we think. If our thinking is contrary to God’s Word, meaning The Bible, we need to change OUR thinking–NOT what the Bible teaches! To declutter the mind–we need to do a personal inventory on our thinking–and anything that contradicts The Bible needs to be thrown away. I leave you with this thought:

If we allow The Bible to speak to us, rather than us speaking for The Bible, we will be liberated from the clutter of our times.

Going Unnoticed!

image from Power Thesaurus

This morning I am going to be cooking! Not on the grill or smoker–in the kitchen! And it’s not for dinner nor is it for supper. Well. . .unless you like indigenous leaves, plants, and dirt. Yep! That’s what I will be cooking this morning! I will bring the ingredients to a rolling boil, then turn down the heat and allow it to simmer for about 25 minutes. I will strain it into a jar, and then–the excitement begins in just 7 days!

Why am I getting excited? What’s the purpose of such a concoction? What am I talking about? The Why is gun season for deer hunting begins next Saturday. The purpose is to help me be successful in my hunting–meaning meat in the freezer. The Why is the necessity of being Unnoticed by the deer. Deer have a keen sense of smell. They can smell something out of place before they see it. For years I’ve spent good money on this product call odor neutralizers in hopes that the deer don’t smell my presence. The thing about these odor neutralizers is I can’t tell if they are working.

A good friend of mine told me about some dryer sheets that leave an earthy scent on your clothes. And with a little research on my part (and some deep thinking on my part), I discovered I didn’t need to purchase such a product–I can make my own. I will gather up some local vegetation as well as a good scoop of good old dirt–put them in a pot–let those aromas seep into that rainwater–and then pretreat my hunting clothes so that the aroma around me doesn’t attract the attention of those deer. My chances of a successful hunt rise exponentially if they don’t hear me, see me, or smell me. I need to be unnoticed! And what does all this have to do with the Kingdom Life? Glad you asked that question–because I have an answer–and an important point to make this morning.

While being unnoticed by the deer is essential for a successful hunt–being unnoticed as a follower of Jesus is a recipe for disaster. Going to a football game, you need a program so you can know who the players are. But nowadays–when it comes to being Citizens Of The Kingdom Of God–it’s hard to recognize which players are on which team.

The western church, particularly in the U.S. has been attempting, and I might add successfully, to blend in with the culture. The resulting calamity is that in many places the church has gone unnoticed. Churchians, Tenured Pew Sitters, and Aggressive Progressives have successfully sought a path to being unnoticed by the culture. It is no longer seen as a threat to the temporary Emporer of this world. Satan is no longer threatened–and so he is free to roam about, taking countless lives into an eternity of hopelessness.

But this methodology of being unnoticed fails to make this world–and the people who compose this world–any better. It’s a train wreck! Therefore I challenge each and every deeply committed follower of Jesus to become noticeable! Not my ranting and raving! But by becoming the model of the heart, mind, and Spirit of Jesus. Sure, standing out in this culture can make one feel uneasy. But following Jesus isn’t meant to make you feel easy and comfortable. It IS meant to make you noticeable in a good way. The chaos and frenzy that is all around us needs something different. It needs to see Jesus in YOU! The REAL Jesus, who is always radically different from the rest of the world, MUST be seen in you. As I go to gather my concoction, I leave you with these words:

 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)

Gummy Adults

Usually, my ruminations begin as I’m listening to my music and worshiping God each morning. But this one began last night as I was preparing to go to sleep. My steps before I climb into bed include brushing my teeth and taking my nighttime pills. I have some prescribed by my doctor and some supplements and vitamins I have chosen. As I opened my pillbox for Tuesday P.M. and looked at my nightly supplements, two words came to mind: Gummy Adults! I know that sounds strange–but remember I am afflicted with random thoughts.

When shopping for my vitamin supplements I’ve noticed (for quite some time now) that there is not only the tablet form for vitamins and supplements for ADULTS, but they also come in Gummy form. Really? What is about to flow out in these next words may sound a bit sarcastic, even snarky. But let me assure you right now–THEY ARE SARCASTIC AND SNARKY! What tha’???? Are there really Adults out there who have the physiological ability to swallow tablets, but just can’t bring themselves to do it, so they Have To buy Adult Vitamins in the Gummy Form? Apparently so, since just about every vitamin supplement comes in gummy form.

One of the major problems–Nay! CRISES–in our culture is there are so many, TOO MANY, Gummy Adults! These are those adults who have refused, for whatever reason, NOT to grow up. And it’s not the fact that they take Gummy Vitamins–that is just one symptom of their problem. The problem is Adults Who Act Like Little Kids! They whine and complain when they don’t get their way. They want and demand attention. They think the world owes them–more than just something– it owes them EVERYTHING!

Adults today–at least it seems to me a majority of them–THINK like a small child thinks. Children rarely think about the consequences of their decisions. That’s why emergency rooms see kids with broken arms because they thought they could fly like Superman, or make that spectacular jump with their bicycle. These Gummy Adults think, process information, and then act from a mindset that is locked into some time-wrap continuum. They not only choose–but they accept and embrace a childish mentality.

Ever read 1 Corinthians chapter 13? Yeah, that one they call the Love Chapter! Well, there’s a line and a verse that Gummy Adults need to read, embrace and become. It’s Verse 11–“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” Did you hear that? Growing up mandates you give up talking, thinking, and reasoning as a child. You’re better than that Gummy Adults! Being “Child-Like” is a requisite for being in God’s Kingdom–having that simple trust in and reliance upon The Father. But ChildISH? That’s a shame and a disgrace; and it’s failing to live up to your potential. When babies drool and dribble it’s cute.

But when an Adult drools and dribbles emotionally and intellectually; let’s just call it what it is: It’s Pathetic And Tragic! No wonder you can’t handle real life. You feel like you must take your vitamins in Gummy Form! Come on, folks! For heaven’s sake–for the sake of our great nation–grow up! Men, grow you a pair! Ladies, put on your big girl panties! Get out there and help solve the myriad of problems instead of BEING the problem. Stop insulting children, and become real Adults! Or has no one told you? Silly adult! Gummies are for kids!

KICKING AND SCREAMING!

Today’s cogitating thoughts are circling around KICKING AND SCREAMING! No, I’m not talking about the spoiled brat of a child of parents who are clueless about being parents who is making a scene at WalMart or McDonald’s. Even though I could write several episodes about this annoyance–I’m staying away from those thoughts. I’m reflecting on my own desire to be KICKING AND SCREAMING–and how I wish others would join me.

Understand what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about being a spoiled and unhappy adult. I’m vocalizing the urgent need for those who align themselves with Jesus–to stop giving up and waving the white flag of surrender! I am hearing so much–WAY too much–from allegedly good Christian folk that this world and culture is so bad–so far gone–that the only thing that will change it is for Jesus to return. I mean–how many social media posts–how many conversations today–are revolving around the thought that the end of time is near! So, come Lord Jesus, come!

There’s a problem with that kind of thinking. And the problem is this: When we conclude and believe that the only remedy for this current mess is the return of Jesus–then we have thrown up the white flag of surrender to Satan! This kind of libidinousness declares that God can no longer work through His people. That God has reached the end of His abilities and capabilities. It’s manifesting that maleficent perspective that we just want to give up and go home.

Granted, to be absent from this body is to be presence with The Lord. And make no mistake about it–I will overflow with Joy to see The One who suffered on the cross for me. But I’m not longing nor am I begging for the return of Jesus–just yet. There are so many hearts who have been blinded by the god of this age who will not experience the Joy I will when I see Jesus face to face. I refuse to give up to the Devil–and I will not abandon a fellow person who is also made in the Image of God.

Kicking And Screaming! That’s what I’m doing! I am going to stay in this fight–and I fight with the living hope that God is going to make the difference in another person’s life–even if so many others have given up The Good Fight Of Faith. What if the Apostle Paul had given up? What if he thought that the Roman Empire was so wicked, so vile and evil–that the only hope was for Jesus to come back quickly? And what if James, Peter, Jude, and John agreed with Paul? What if Timothy and Barnabas threw up the white flag of surrender and defeat?

If that happened, the New Testament would be mighty small. And who knows, you might now even be reading my thoughts right now. I will close with a story about the late Paul “Bear” Bryant. It cannot be verified as being truth–nonetheless it makes a powerful point. One of his players graduated and became a graduate assistant on Bear’s coaching staff. One day he was told to go out looking for potential recruits. But he wasn’t certain what kind of player The Bear wanted. So he went to his office and asked, “What kind of player do I need to be looking for?”

The Bear leaned back in his chair and said, “You know, there’s that kind of player that gets knocked down and stays down. We don’t want him. Then there’s that player that gets knocked down and gets right back up. He gets knocked down again, but he gets back up again. Every time he gets knocked down he gets right back up.” Excitedly, the graduate assistant said, “And that’s the kind of player you want me to get!” The Bear leaned forward, and with a scowl on his face said: “Heck no! Get me that player that keeps knocking him down!”

Give up if that’s what you want. That’s your choice. Wave the white flag of defeat and shout it loudly so all of heaven can hear you: “I surrender! There’s nothing else we can do to change this mess! Come Lord Jesus, come!” But me??? I ain’t looking to raise no white flag! I’m 65, but I ain’t dead! And my hope and confidence in Jesus is more alive now than ever! The Good News of Jesus may seem to many to be a foolish way to transform this world with all its messes. But not me! I say to you, Devil–you better run, because I’m still kicking and screaming! And if you ain’t got something to make the devil run–you ain’t got nothing!

What’s Your Motto?

  • Just Do It
  • A Diamond is Forever
  • When you care enough to send the very best
  • I’d walk a mile for a Camel
  • Quality never goes out of style
  • Finger Lickin’ Good
  • With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good
  • Snap, Crackle and Pop!
  • So easy, a caveman can do it
  • The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection
  • The Ultimate Driving Machine
  • The Quicker Picker Upper
  • We Bring Good Things to Life
  • The King of Beers
  • Fly the friendly skies
  • Because You’re Worth It
  • Let’s Go Places
  • Have It Your Way
  • I’m Lovin’ It
  • Betcha can’t eat just one!
  • When it rains, it pours
  • Taste the Rainbow
  • What Happens Here, Stays Here
  • When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight

Mottos! Yep! That’s what’s stirring up my gray matter this morning. When it comes to advertising–a great motto helps consumers to remember their product. So, what is YOUR motto? To help you tell me yours, I’ll tell you one of mine: “If you don’t like my sarcasm, don’t ask me stupid questions!”

Even our good old U.S. of A. has a motto: In God We Trust! The thing about mottos is that you gotta back it up–otherwise people just ignore or forget it. Unfortunately, with my aforementioned motto–I back it up with a healthy, sometimes an over-abundance of sarcasm. But that motto on all our currency? That thing about Trust In God? Not a good motto in these times–because it’s not backed up with action.

Before you start ranting and raving about the nefarious cesspool otherwise known as Washington D.C., know I’m not talking about that ash heap. This morning I am talking only to those who self-identify as Christian. I still remember decades ago getting emails about how Madeline O’Hare was going to the Supreme Court in an attempt to get In God We Trust removed from our currency. Now, I would have bought a plane ticket to see that, seeing she had been dead for years!

Christians want it on our currency–but it would be far better for them, for our nation, and for our world if it was just removed from the currency! There, I said it! But before you stop reading this morning’s pensiveness, read what is next. It would be far better for us, for our nation, and for our world if you have a motto that you embody with your attitudes, words, thoughts, and actions.

Yes! we need to Trust In God That’s a no-brainer! But more than saying we need to Trust In God, we need a motto that shows how much we Trust In God! Forget putting it on currency and government seals. Let’s put a new motto on our ordinary, going here and there, doing this and that life. And maybe it’s time I, too, changed my personal motto to one that better suits what God is doing in my life. So, what should it be, America? Hey! I have an idea. What about this one?

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

If we adopt this as our motto it means we would have to stop looking at political parties, the hollow (and I do mean hollow, not hallowed! I said what I meant, and I meant what I said!) halls of academia, and even ourselves in order to see a real transformation in our times; and really live through the strength of Jesus! How strong is Jesus? He carried the weight of all our sins while hanging on the Cross. And somehow, as strange as it may sound to some, I believe Jesus will strengthen us to be a light that brings hope to the hopeless. Call me crazy! You won’t be the first, and I dare say, you won’t be the last!

Sighs Of The Times

Not a misprint–I said SIGHS of the time. I hear of lot of sighs around me. And for some time now–I’ve been SIGHING a lot.

  • I sigh when I hear people say we don’t need to talk about racism–though nearly every day I hear a racist statement or two or three or four…
  • I sigh when I hear people say that anyone younger than them “ain’t got a clue” about life–though they never try to teach…
  • I sigh when I hear people whine and complain that they are not getting their fair share of life–though they are unwilling to apply themselves to the challenges of life…
  • I sigh…when I hear employers complain they can’t find decent employees–though they regularly reject applications of people they think won’t fit in…
  • I sigh when I hear church folks wonder why people don’t come to their church, after all, they are a friendly church–though they take neither the time nor the effort to get to know others…
  • I sigh when I hear people complaining about the government–though they keep putting career politicians back in office…
  • I sigh when I hear people say that Democrats are the answer to our problems–though they have helped create those problems…
  • I sigh when I hear people say that Republicans are the answer to our problems–though they have helped create those problems…
  • I sigh when I hear people complain about the culture–and that’s all they do: COMPLAIN
  • I sigh when I hear people speak hate about other people today because of what other people did 175 years ago–as it they were the cause of poor decisions…
  • I sigh when I hear when folks point out the sins of others–why they ignore their own sin…
  • I sigh when I hear the researchers throwing out their fake science that is ruining so many lives–and vainly believe they are helping…
  • I sigh when I hear self-identified Christians say they want Jesus to come back right how–not thinking about all those who will not be ready for His Appearing…
  • I sigh when I hear me confess my sin–knowing I had the power of The Holy Spirit to successfully resist…
  • I sigh when I hear hate and anger catapulted at those who wear the badge–and don’t seem to care they are human beings who want nothing but to help others and keep us all safe…
  • I sigh when I hear nothing but silence–when it comes to the Truth of God and His Word…

What makes YOU sigh today? I could go on and on and on; and on some more about what makes me SIGH. But I am hit–and hit hard–by the Holy Spirit this morning. He asked me: “Randy, can you kindly tell me what all your SIGHING has accomplished? I mean other than made you feel sad, even an unhealthy bit of despair? After all, any amount of despair ain’t heathy for you.” So, I let that thought sink in a little bit. I refrained from that knee jerk reaction of: “I’m justified in this because that’s the way it is!” As His question marinated in my heart and mind, I finally answered Him: “It would be better for me, and my world, if I prayed instead of SIGHING!” And I could swear that I heard The Spirit say, “Mm-hmm.” Instead of SIGHING today, I’ll pray today, tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next, and the next… Will you join me in giving up SIGHING and replace it with PRAYING?

HELP WANTED: Signs Of The Times

Help wanted sign in front of store front

Snarky! The dictionary defines snarky as “having a rudely critical tone or manner“. I prefer my own definition of snarky: “it’s the combination of a lot of common sense and frustration fueled by the stupidity of others.” For some snarky is an ability; for others it’s a gift. I have been doubly blessed with both the ability and gift of snarkiness. This is also a curse because I have to fight the battle every day to use it at the most inappropriate moments. Most days I manage to keep Snarky locked up in the closet. But this morning Snarky is banging on that door, begging to be let out. And I can’t keep it locked up. So fasten your seatbelts, it may be a bumpy flight.

There was a season when the signs outside a business said things like: Clearance Sale! Buy One Get One! Inventory Liquidation! Mattresses 50% Off! Going Out Of Business! But do you know the most frequent sign seen today in front of businesses? HELP WANTED! Some are even offering sign on bonuses. What’s happened? Has the pool of available employees been abducted by an armada of UFOs? Nope! And thus Snarky has a message today.

So many people do today not want to WORK! Every day I see a boatload of people who appear able to work, but they aren’t! Those who do show up only want a paycheck. Earning that paycheck for them is as foreign as reading and properly pronunciate the Classical Greek language. The concept of hard work is anathema and they are having no part of it! It’s like 3 day old chewing gum–they find it tasteless.

Why? Why? Why? Would you believe I have some theories kindly given to me by Snarky? One reason is PARENTS! Every day I see some snooty-nosed kid with a $50,000 truck with $3,000 rims and tires, and the front end jacked-up. How do high school kids afford it? They don’t! Daddy and/or Momma wants them to have it, not earn it! I don’t know if they do it out of love or whatever reason. It’s not love giving someone whatever they want. Doing such harms them and takes away from their potential.

Another reason Snarky gives me is the U.S. Government. They reward people for doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Instead of giving incentives to become productive citizens, they hand out money as quick as their intaglio printer can spit it out. I’ve heard people laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic say, “I can earn almost or even as much staying at home as I did working.” Now tell me, WHERE IN THE NAME OF GOD’S CREATION DOES THAT ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO WORK? Sorry for the yelling; I momentarily lost control of Snarky.

So what can be done? Well, parents can shut off the muck of showering their love for those kids with money and trying to make it easy for their kids. Life ain’t easy–but it can be very good! I always told my kids: You can work hard, or you can work smart! I still remember to this day back in 1992 at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. My son had just finished Basic Training, and one of the first things he said to me was: Dad, you were right! He may not remember it, but Dad sure does. Parents, teach your kids that work, even hard work, isn’t a curse–it’s an opportunity to grow and improve yourself.

Government can turn off those intaglio presses and remind everyone that nothing important, significant, or valuable is ever achieved without both determination and hard work. This may well be the thing least likely to happened. It seems our government was us to depend on THEM! Seems to me, back in the 1770’s this was one of the things that the King of England wanted–in addition they want money from those who actually worked so they would not have to work.

Finally, for those of us who understand the value of hard work, let’s doing something different. Instead of complaining about all those people sitting at home doing nothing or shopping at WalMart with their government incentives to do nothing when there are all these HELP WANTED signs–we create opportunities for teaching moments. If you’re always telling how useless they are they will not embrace those teaching moments. We need to re-teach people that there is no shame in applying themselves and that hard work is not a curse or a sin. Excuse me, I need to shove Snarky back in the closet!

What Happened?

What happened? Can anyone tell me? Please, I need to know! Can somebody, anybody tell me what happened? Isn’t there anyone out here in the Wacky World Web who can explicate and expound to me what happened? Well…I’m waiting! What? No answers?

Oh, maybe I need to delineate what I’m wondering about this morning. What happened to people thinking for themselves and using common sense? The provocation that started this thought happened last week (not that I haven’t been thinking about why people stopped thinking). But I had a moment when this thought simply erupted in a volcanic type moment.

I went by the local Tractor Supply Store to browse for some supplements for the upcoming hunting season. Before someone accuses me of illegal use of baits, in Alabama we can use baits for deer hunting with the appropriate permit; which I have. I always look forward to this time of year to see what new items are out. Well…I saw this item called Buck Bourbon 110 Proof Deer Attractant. It piqued my curiosity so I read the list of ingredients. Look at the bottom of the list of ingredients. I’ve underlined it for you.

Not for human consumption! Does not contain alcohol! Why this warning label? I mean, it is clearly labeled as a Deer Attractant! Who would be so stupid as to look at this bag and think: “Gee, golly! I bet this stuff is tasty. And I can get drunk off of it too! What a deal!” I could blame the lawyers for this; knowing how quick they are to pursue a buck (pun intended). But in deep retrospect, as much as I may want to blame the 95% of lawyers who give the rest of them a bad name–somehow people, not businesses and manufacturers, must be held responsible for their thinking!

We live in a nightmarish season where people have stopped thinking for themselves. This has been going on for so long that calling it a “season” isn’t the right word. It’s more like an era! This culture around us wants someone else to think for them. They want someone to tell them how to think politically, economically, socially, and yes, even religiously. Their minds have been at rest–and thus their minds have rusted. An expression often used to describe these “I don’t think for myself” people is: “They’re not the sharpest tool in the shed.” Listen! They don’t have any tools! And they don’t even have a shed!

Babies need to be–must be–spoon fed because they lack the motor skills to do it themselves. Eventually, though we must allow them to attempt to hold that spoon and feed themselves. Otherwise they will never learn how. Granted, it gets messy when they first try–but in time they develop the skill. But spoon fed adults–when it comes to using the old noggin–disgusting and appalling! So wake up! You have a brain–and you need to use it! Rant over!

Apparently There Is!

Listen to the talk at the hair stylist or barber shop. Apparently there is. Listen to the conversations in the break room. Apparently there is. Sit down at the local liars table at the diner or fast food joint. Apparently there is. Listen to the words just about anywhere there are 2 or more people (yes, this includes the local church). Apparently there is. Someone reading this is thinking right now, “What is he talking about? A boatload of hopelessness? A superabundance of stupidity?” While this may seem to be true, it’s not what’s bouncing around in my mind–and my heart. It’s the answer to this question found in The Bible–a couple of times.

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Genesis 18:14 (NLT)

Apparently it’s too hard for The Lord to change, much less use, the POTUS. Apparently it’s too hard for The Lord to change our culture. Apparently it’s too hard for The Lord to change Washington D.C. Apparently it’s too hard for The Lord to change the hearts and minds of millennials. Apparently it’s too hard for The Lord to change the hearts of the mega-rich. Apparently it’s too hard for The Lord to change pastors. Apparently it’s too hard for The Lord to change how businesses do business. I would expect to hear such things from those who are not Followers And Disciples Of Jesus. They just don’t know what The Lord can do.

But to hear this kind of balderdash and blather from those who call themselves “Christians”? Well, just call me Popeye!

If your “god” can’t use someone like President Biden. If your “god” can’t use someone like Nancy Pelosi. If your “god” can’t use someone like that discombobulation called The House of Representatives and The Senate. If your “god” can’t use someone like millennials. If your “god” can’t use someone like _________________ (fill in the blank of the stupidest person or group you know), then your “god” is way to small–and you need to change to a different “God”!

So, what if–I’m only talking to those who self-identify as Christian–instead of complaining, whining, griping, and yammering about all those “other people”, you begin praying FOR THEM rather than YALPING AGAINST THEM? What if you prayed for the peace of our nation? What if you prayed for those people to have wisdom? What if you used all that time spent bellyaching and sniveling to ask God to help them? Oh! One more thing! Make that TWO more things! What if you became the change you want to see in others? What if you became the model of HOPE rather than hopelessness?

If an old woman and an old man could have a child way beyond those child bearing years–and they did–can you imagine what WILL happen when we believe, act like, talk like, LIVE LIKE nothing is too hard for The Lord? This isn’t easy; I know! Even Jesus understood our tendency to believe more in the impossible rather than in GOD’S POSSIBLE!

Jesus answered, “What is humanly impossible is possible for God.”

(Luke 18:27 GNT)

You simply cannot be a follower of Jesus, if anything–I said ANYTHING (remember Popeye’s motto) is too hard for The Lord! If it is too hard, then, in the enduring words of the classic book by J.B. Phillips, Your God Is Too Small! And that makes YOU the real problem, not those people!

What’s Your Sign?

Sign, sign
Everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery
Breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign?

“Signs” performed by Five Man Electrical Band, written by Arthur Thomas

If you were not singing along with the above lyrics, you are NOT a part of the best and coolest generation ever! Yep! I’m thinking about signs today–and the messages they disclose. When I’m on my motorcycle, I absolutely LOVE this next sign! As I recently posted on Facebook, sometimes you need a really crooked road to get your head straight!

There are more signs that just highway signs. Signs of summer:

Signs of fall:

Signs of winter:

And the ever popular signs of Spring:

But I am aberrating. There’s a road sign I’ve seen a few times, and today I started thinking about that sign. Can I be honest with you? It’s a sign that bemuses, bewilders, and stupefies me. And here it is:

I realize that a lot of churches are indeed slow, but I wonder what are the qualifications to receive such a designation? If I was the pastor of the church that had this sign–I would seek a new appointment. If I was a member, I would insist that the highway department take it down immediately. I mean, who wants to lead or attend a slow church? Apparently, there’s a lot who will fit the bill.

I call them Tenured Pew Sitters. The church has been SLOW to realize it doesn’t exist to serve it’s members. The church has been SLOW to accept people who don’t dress, think, or vote like them as people who need God’s grace. The church has been SLOW understanding that our story isn’t the story about the church, but the Saga Of The Kingdom Of God. The church has been SLOW recognizing the it isn’t a building but supposed to be a people.

It seems the church has been SLOW in responding the Great Heresy Of The 21st Century–that of progressive theology. This started back in the 1960’s. Yet Churchians and Tenured Pew Sitters refused to believe it would ever gain traction. So…they remained silent.

And now it threatens to ripe apart the fabric of many churches. It’s a theology that depends and relies on human intellect and logic. And that is a train wreck about to happen, the likes of which have never been seen before. In it’s carnage will be victims of both sides–you see falsehood and heresy doesn’t care who it hurts–it will even hurt it’s most ardent supporters. The wake that will be left by progressivism will be a bloody mess of anger, doubt, fear, and broken spirits.

Slowness is killing the church in the U.S. of A. Elsewhere in the world, where the church isn’t SLOW, the Body Of Christ is Alive, Vibrant, and bringing new citizens into the Kingdom of God. Perhaps in the U.S., they should change words to a familiar hymn: Like a little snail, move the U.S. Church. But that’s just how I feel.

One Thumb Down!

Well, yours truly, experienced a moment yesterday that was not even close to my finest moments–not even in same zip code. A friend and I were adding a gate to our chain link fence. It required new post holes. I had 2 options–post hole diggers (which require a lot of physical exertion) or a drill with an auger. The drill and auger was the choice–after all I may not look very bright, but I do have my moments. That choice was my only moment yesterday.

As I was drilling the last hole, THAT’S when my common sense decided to take a break. As the auger was turning it hit a tree root. So what, you may ask. Well, here’s a lesson in physics. Since the auger was NOT turning all that energy had to go somewhere. That somewhere was up to the drill, that I was holding, and it violently began to twist, bending my right thumb in a direction it wasn’t meant to be bent. It wasn’t the drill’s fault, or the tree root–it was my fault. As you can clearly see from the picture below, there are two handles on the drill–one on top and one to the side. And this is why my not so bright moment occurred. I was holding on to the top handle instead of the side handle. Had I been holding that side handle, it would not have given my right thumb this lingering pain.

And now on my right hand, I have an unusable opposing digit. One usually doesn’t think about their thumb–that is–until you cannot use it. Being left handed I do not think much about my right thumb–but this morning my right thumb is saying: “See, you do need me!” Opposing digits, as thumbs are often called, are what make us different from most in the primate family and most of the animal kingdom. OK, what’s my point?

My point today is why are so many basing their beliefs and values on those who act and make decisions all the time the way I made one wrong decision? Look folks, too many who are not the sharpest tool in the tool shed, not the brightest bulb in the box (heck, their bulb hasn’t worked in years–if ever!) are influencing others–and the masses who refuse to think are following their lead.

So, who is influencing you? Who sets the cadence for your life? Who are you listening to? Those who don’t have a clue? Or, those who have the common sense, wisdom, and experiences to know better? Take it from me, if you are using an auger on your drill to dig a hole, make sure that drill has a handle on the side–and use it! This is the voice of experience! I close with this cartoon I recently shared on Facebook:

Near the end of the movie The Last Crusade, they find the Holy Grail–actually scores of them. But only one was the authentic Holy Grail. The Templar Knight guarding it said, “Choose wisely.” The villain in the movie, Walter Donovan, choose what he thought was the Holy Grail. After drinking from the cup–he rapidly and painfully returned to dust. And the Templar Knight said, “He chose poorly.” Yesterday, I chose poorly. Make good decisions–because they do have consequences. Remember Walter Donovan’s choice, and my poor choice. Just ask my right thumb! For a few days now, I’m going to be one thumb down!

New Discovery Brings New Meaning To The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

Did you know at one time that each state’s legislature selected their Senators for the U.S. Senate? One contentious battle for that seat happened in Illinois in 1858 between the incumbent Stephen Douglas and this guy named Abraham Lincoln. They had a series of 7 debates, each man hoping to sway the Illinois legislature to select them. And it has been taught that the hot button topic was on the expansion of slavery into the U.S. Territories. But recently an old barn in Illinois was being demolished and a newspaper from a now defunct newspaper, The Roof Leak Weekly, sheds new light on this hot topic button.

According to an article in that recently discovered issue of Roof Leak Weekly, it wasn’t the issue of slavery, rather it was the issue of the Internet. Douglas insisted, at time shouting, “Everything you read on the Internet must be true–nay–IT IS TRUE!” Well, Abe took the opposite view frequently stating, in a small voice, “Now hold on to those reins Stephen. Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean there is even a small morsel of Truth. My father taught me that right after he caught me cutting down the cherry tree.” This discord became the single bone of contention between these gentlemen–at times nearly coming to blows betwixt them. This is according to The Roof Leak Weekly–and if The Roof Leak Weekly said so, then it is so! Now you knew the real Truth about the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. By the way, in case you did not know, Lincoln won the debates, but lost the election to the U.S. Senate.

Are you scratching your head, wondering if I hit my head really hard yesterday with this opening? Do you think me preposterous, loony, wacky, daffy, dippy, flaky, incongruous, nutty and screwy for such statements? Well, since you’re reading this sentence, it means it’s on the Internet, so it must be true! OK, OK, I said OK! You caught me in a moment of Sagacious Sarcasm. As ridiculous as my nonsensical news about those famous debates sounds, so is a lot of other impedimenta being put out on the Wacky World Web–sometimes referred to as The Internet!

There is a plethora of conspiracies and truths out there hidden behind every tree that the government doesn’t want YOU to know. They are being kept in a secret government bunker under lock and key in a vault and under the control of just a handful of people who are more than afraid–they are TERRIFIED and PANIC STRICKEN that anyone else would know The Truth. Fox Mulder was right–“The Truth is out there!” But alas, do not despair. Remember Stephen Douglas’ assertion on the truth of the Internet! And if The Truth is out there–and it is according to Fox Mulder–some hero will manage in infiltrate that secret government bunker to find it–or find someone with access to that secret government bunker who is tired of lying to the masses and will get The Scoop On The Truth to some Internet Crusader!

Here’s an example: The COVID-19 Vaccine. I’ve had both doses of the Moderna vaccine and as proof I have been and continue to be unaffected by the vaccine, here is my latest selfie:

Seriously folks, there are side effects to every medication. Have your read the warning label on acetaminophen? Or when a physician orders your a prescription do you read about all the side effects? But there are pseudo-scientists and lazy researchers who are experts in their own illusionary world telling us all kinds of things about the vaccine. But hey! It’s on the Wacky World Web so it must be true.

Did you just hear that? In case you didn’t, it was the sound of a heavy, heavy, heavy, heavy sigh from the depths of my mind and heart. It’s not just on vaccines–name any subject and somewhere is an alleged and lazy pseudo-journalist that can find that there the truth is out there–in that heavily secured underground government bunker in an unknown location (which at this time some pseudo-journalist is searching for and will find that secret underground government)!

It seems there are many, too many people out there who are quick to believe in and will pay double the price for the snake oil. I know many of them, and you probably do, too! At the risk of sounding older than dirt–How I long for the good old days when people would think for themselves–and had enough common sense to know what Abraham Lincoln knew so long ago–That Everything You Read On The Internet Isn’t True!