411

God’s Word will give us the tools, skills, and wisdom to process all that IMFORMATION in the way that builds us up, and keeps us from falling apart.

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Does one have to be “my” age to know about 411? Hopefully not. For readers not familiar with it, it is the number one would call to contact the phone company if you needed information about someone’s phone number. I think it’s still around. If it’s a business, I just use Google. What does this have to do with today’s musings? I am so glad you asked.

We all need to be INFORMED. The issue is, who or what is INFORMING you? I came across this recently:

People want to be INFORMED–but alas, they make one of these mistakes; or both. They get their INFORMATION from the wrong places. Or, they process that INFORMATION the wrong way. There are three ways for processing INFORMATION from any and every source.

One way is to rely on how we feel about the information. Gee whiz! What the what? Blech! Arghhhh! Hmph! Oy, oy, oy! Tsk-tsk! It makes my head ache when people use feelings to process INFORMATION. Feelings fluctuate like a politician’s views. It’s like trying to erect a vertical wall without using a plumb. Oh, my, the chaos in the United Methodist Church should be enough to show the imbecility of this approach. In spite of the fact that their feelings continue to undermine the church, they persist with the ferocity not seen in even the animal kingdom. Feelings change more in a day than weather does in a typical Alabama day.

Another way is to accept what THEY say. OMG! Jeeezus Christ! This is doltishness and stupefaction to the Nth degree! Or as Buzz Lightyear would say:

Who, in the name of all that’s sane, is THEY? You’ve heard it, may even said it: They say blah, blah, blah. . . .” It may be the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the Libertarian party or some institute of alleged (but not proven to be) institute of higher learning. Or it may be some Instagram Idiot, or Twitter Twit, or Facebook Fatuity, or maybe some YouTube Boob. Often times they are anonymously unknown. Absorbing the views of they is like drinking a glass of water dipped right out of Love Canal. No thank you!!!!!

If the first two ways are exasperating and rankle your sensibilities, then maybe this will help–more than MAYBE–it WILL help. Turn to the Truth of The Bible. Not someone else’s explanations about The Bible–just The Bible itself. What some people say about The Bible–well–it sometimes verges on, and other times go beyond the obtuse. Oh, it may take some time–it may even take a lot of time–but God’s Word is both relevant and reliable.

When it comes to processing INFORMATION, you can rely on The Bible. Our world is filled with all kinds of alleged truth. God’s Word will give us the tools, skills, and wisdom to process all that IMFORMATION in the way that builds us up, and keeps us from falling apart.

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

(2 Timothy 3:16; The Message)

It’s Right There In The Bible! NOT! Part 7

If one cannot trust The Bible to identify sin, then they cannot trust The Bible at all

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This will be the last in the series of blogs. And in my humble opinion, here is the greatest heresy of all that some believe is in The Bible, but it’s NOT!

All God Expects Of Us Is To Love Like Jesus!

This is the creed and mantra from those who self-identify as progressives. I have a difficult time calling it a theology, because Truth has been completely ignored–even erased. Those who have been deceived by this lie freely quote all the passages that talk about love–and ignore the rest. They love to even quote a “bit” of Jesus: “Neither do I condemn you.”

They insist–scratch that! The DEMAND we see this their way–or else we are mean, ugly, dumb, hateful, homophobic, despiteful, heinous, odious, vicious, and vile creatures. To focus on LOVE and ignore TRUTH is a train wreck about to happen. Yes, sometimes Truth hurts–but living Lie? This hurts beyond our wildest imaginations.

They want us to think the the death of Jesus opens the way for us to think for ourselves about what is right and what is wrong. If we love like Jesus, then what once was immoral–instantly becomes moral. I just came across this in my research for today blog. It’s another blog called Jesus Without The Baggage by Peter Enns. In one blog he writes: “The essence of what we call ‘sin’ is not breaking God’s rules (that is Law–legalism); it is the way we treat each other causing pain, alienation, and all the other words mentioned at the beginning of this article.” For Mr. Enns, there is no such thing as “Original Sin”.

However, here is what Jesus says in Matthew 5:17-19 (NLT)–“17 Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

And let’s not forget good old Peter. He wrote affirming the standard of God’s holiness is to be our standard in 1 Peter 1:15 (NLT)–But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. If one cannot trust The Bible to identify sin, then they cannot trust The Bible at all! Love doesn’t mean we “gotta” obey God–it means we “get to” obey God. Yes, sin does still exist–and we are not qualified nor capable of defining sin.

It’s Right There In The Bible! NOT! Part 3

Well, here I go with yet another one of those incongruous and cacophonous things some people believe are in the Bible. Today’s episode is:

The Lord Helps Those Who Help Themselves!

Now, I do agree that way too many people live out their paltry and pathetic lives as if there are no consequences for their decisions, choices and actions. Way too many are waiting for a free lunch that isn’t going to be delivered. Heck, there’s no one even in the kitchen cooking that free lunch. And The Bible is clear that whatever kind of seeds we plant, THAT is going to be the crop we produce. But this? The Lord helps those who help themselves? That’s a train of thought that derailed at the station! This kind of thinking isn’t a train without a caboose (this analogy goes back to the days when trains had a caboose)–it’s a train without an engine! It doesn’t get us anywhere!

It’s preposterous and maniacal to think that God is waiting for us to do something to help ourselves before He is willing to lift a finger to help us. It only makes sense to those who live in the futility of believing that we, broken and messed-up human beings are au fait when it comes to fixing the messes we create. Do you want the truth about the human (in)ability to help ourselves?

SPOILER ALERT! We cannot help ourselves. Our best efforts are always tainted by our sinful and fallen nature. Here’s the Truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! It takes the Grace of God to help us, period! God doesn’t give His Grace to those who are trying–and certainly not to those who think they deserve His Grace. If we deserve Grace, then it’s no longer Grace. It’s payment for our efforts. Do you want a Bible Verse to prove it, and thus make me “Biblical” in this assertion? OK, buckaroo, you got it!

The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.

Romans 8:3 (NLT)

So, quit tell others that if they want their lives to change, they have to help themselves first before God will help them. And if you still believe this anathema and abomination–all I can say is: God help you! Please God, help them!

It’s Right There In The Bible! NOT! Part 2

If you don’t like them, you can’t love them.

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Loopholes! Admit it, we all look for them. Whether it is in a legal contract, or tax laws, and even in The Bible. Loopholes relieve us of something we should do, but don’t want to. And the best part of loopholes is that we rest easy at night thinking we are justified. And here is one of the oft used loopholes by those who self identify as Christians:

I love them but The Bible doesn’t say I have to like them!

I wonder if God looks like this when people say this? Well guess what, buttercup? That’s not in The Bible. To those who hold tightly onto this loophole, it may hurt your brain–but think about it. Now, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, as a verb the word like means “to feel attraction toward or take pleasure in; enjoy”.

Now if you don’t like someone, it means that you dislike them. And what do you suppose the word dislike means? It means “to regard with displeasure, antipathy, or aversion”. Look at that word antipathy! It means “an instinctive contradiction or opposition in feeling”. Catch it? CONTRADICTION! When you say, “I love them but I don’t like them” you are contradicting yourself. And it certainly doesn’t look like the kind of Love that Jesus modeled, and expects us to do.

Here is what The Bible says about Love: “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” (Romans 12:9) And please, please, please, notice that Paul said hate WHAT is wrong–not WHO IS WRONG! What is a THING and not a PERSON! If you don’t like someone, this means you have an aversion towards them. And God doesn’t have an aversion towards any person.

To say you love someone but just don’t like them and think it’s OK because The Bible doesn’t say you must like them–my response to you is: Negatory! Nope! Absolutely not! No way! Not at all! Nay! Never! And in the words of the immortal philosopher Barney Fife: Andy, you gotta nip it! Nip it in the bud!

And hear the conclusion about this loophole:

If you don’t like them, you can’t love them.

It’s Right There In The Bible! NOT! Part 1

God doesn’t cause everything to happen that happens on this spherical orb called earth!

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This is the first of I don’t know how many blogs on Things In The Bible–NOT! Isn’t it amazing how many things people believe are in the Bible–but it’s just not there. Maybe amazing isn’t the word–sad is a more apt description. Some of my fellow members of The Order Of The Backwards Collar (a.k.a. preachers) have done a whole series of sermons on this issue. I promise you that these thoughts are my thoughts–not someone else’s. With this said, please put your trays in the upright position, turn off all electronic devices (except the one you are reading this on), and fasten your seatbelts. We are about to take off!

The Lord never puts more on you than you can handle!

Oy vey! This one is absolute bupkes (Yiddish word for “goat droppings” or “horse droppings”, and in the South we say “bull s&%#”)! Show me in The Bible where it says such a heinous and horrid thing! This is wrong on so many levels, where do I begin? What besotted person would even contemplate such a thought?

Well, what does the Bible actually say? I hear some referring to 1 Corinthians 10:13–“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” Now, this I do believe. God will not allow a temptation to be more than I can handle and will be with me in it to show me the way out. That’s temptations, not life.

Listen! There’s a difference between temptations and life as it happens on this spherical orb called earth. NEWS FLASH! God doesn’t cause everything to happen that happens on this spherical orb called earth! Sorry Calvinists! NOT SORRY! Here’s another NEWS FLASH! We live in smack dab in the middle of a fallen creation. And right now, I’m still struggling with something that is too hard for me to handle. I’m having trouble focusing on the tasks in front of me. I’m grieving. I’m grieving for my Dad. I’m grieving for my family. One more NEWS FLASH! It’s more than I can handle! And God didn’t put this on me. Life did; more exactly–death is the cause. And God doesn’t cause death! And I pity the fool who believes God is the cause of any death.

I just wrote “one more NEWS FLASH”–but that’s not so. I have yet another–let’s call this one a GOOD NEWS FLASH! I’m not alone! I have the Body Of Christ surrounding me with prayer, compassion, and presence–literally being the presence of Jesus to me in this season of life when it is too much for me to handle. And just what does the Bible say exactly, when life is too much to handle? Does it say that I just need more faith? Oh, heck NO! A million times NO!

I choose to listen to the one who experienced life’s crushing experiences–Jesus! As a matter of fact, here’s what Jesus and The Bible says: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT) He overcame the world AFTER He fell beneath the weight of that cross when he was being led to His place of execution!

God doesn’t put grief, pain, disappointment, hurt, nor anything else that crushes our hearts. But He is with us in the crucible–and He will guide us out of it. Just ask Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. God hasn’t given me more than I can handle. But life has–so I cling to the one who conquered both life and death!

Oh–and if you have a favorite pet peeve on something that people say is in The Bible, but it’s not, share it in the comments section! See ya’ tomorrow!

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!

2021 Pharisees!

Well, I’m back–along with my sense of humor and snark. Being 64 years old has it’s advantages. Besides all those Senior Discounts, I’m too old to beat around the bush–and play nice. My years are counting down and I want these remaining years to count. As I shared yesterday in my message, I’ve been intending to get back to writing. But intending doesn’t make the baby a dress–and a highway to a certain undesirable location is paved with the good ones.

The Spirit has finally moved me from intentions to actions–and I owe it all to the events of last week in Washington, D.C. I want to speak to those who profess to be–call it “Christian” or “disciple” or “church member”–and were either involved with last week’s chaos in D.C. or supported and liked what happened. If you want nothing to do with Jesus, the church, and what has been labeled “Christianity”–I’m not talking to you. You can continue to pursue whatever it is you are pursuing. Only you who say you are “Christians”, yet are tying your “Christianity” to U.S. politics. It’s you who are in the crosshairs of this Kingdom Pastor.

I’ve seen your posts on social media. I’ve heard your rants against Democrats and a corrupted election process. I’ve heard your hate against Antifa. And I’ve heard your disdain about Black Lives Matter–something you insist isn’t necessary. Your disdain contradicts your assertions. Now, if I haven’t rattled your chains enough–allow me to raise your hackles. YOU who claim to be “Christians” and are involved in this mess or encourage this mess or say you support this mess–YOU are the 2021 Pharisees.

The reason you are a Pharisee is that you have connected Jesus with U.S. Politics and the Republican Party. The Pharisees in the days when Jesus was human wanted and promoted a Military Messiah. 2021 Pharisees want and promote a Political Messiah–who also happens to be a Republican and Trump Supporter.

Now, I’m not suggesting there was not any voter fraud or voting irregularities. I’m from Alabama where legend has it that a certain county has had over 120% of registered voters cast ballots in elections. What I am saying is two-fold. First, leave the allegations of voter fraud in the hands of proper investigative authorities and YOU stay the heck out of it. You have neither the legal authority nor the mental abilities to make such a determination.

Second reason: You need to cease and desist because you are doing great harm to the church, the Good News of The Kingdom, and making a mockery of Jesus as the Real Messiah–who has neither military nor political aspirations. Like the Pharisees of old, 2021 Pharisees are twisting God’s Promise into an action point that just so happens to coincide with their personal opinions. And you know what is said about personal opinions: they are like anuses; everyone has one and they usually stink.

So, to all you yahoos out there crying, moaning, and declaring the end of America, you need to do something more. Drop the name “Christian” from your posts and rants. Many of us are out there bringing the Good News of the Kingdom–News made for difficult times like these. We offer people a relationship with the Real Jesus who is Sovereign and needs neither political party to achieve His desire of redeeming and restoring fallen human beings. He is capable of doing such an enormous task without the help of whoever is sitting in the Oval Office. He doesn’t even need the political party controlling the Senate nor the House of Representatives.

If you want to be a Political Animal/Beast–then drop all the references to Jesus. See how that works out for you. For me, it’s heartbreaking to see all of the uproar, chaos, anger, and hate. But all of that doesn’t lead me into despair. Times like these are made for The Good News of God’s Kingdom. In all this darkness–it’s really great to know The Light–and to have The Light living in the hearts of those who truly are Christians.

Is It Time To Change The Rules?

Recently I entered a strange world–it’s called Twitter. Oh, I’ve had a Twitter account and these musings here show up in my Twitter feed. But instead of just “tweeting”, “liking”, and the occasional “retweet”, I decided to dive in to a thread that, well, got my attention.

It was about doing away with the Electoral College because it wasn’t . . . fair. I was amazed at the number of people wanting to abolish the Electoral College all because “their” candidate wasn’t elected. The theme of being unfair rang throughout the rants.

And I was dumbfounded by those who didn’t understand it. I made a simple comment, excuse me, “tweet”, that the U.S. is a Representative Republic and not a democracy. One “twit” (I know my snarky is coming out) corrected me by saying that Google corrects it to “Representative Democracy”. I tweeted that just because Google said it doesn’t make it true. Right now I’ve drawn all the curtains and regularly peek outside to see if the mob armed with torches and axes are approaching the house. And I wept that so many were being educated by Google rather than knowledge and common sense.

I could go on about what I encountered, but another thought came over me. It was the question that is the title of this post: “Is It Time To Change The Rules?” It seems to me that our culture is being driven to accept only the results that it desires in the moment. If rules gets in the way of achieving those desires, then the rules need to be changed in order to achieve the wanted outcome.

Now, those who know me knows that I can be a rebel by breaking some of the rules. And there are some rules that indeed need to be changed. Our nation has a history of changing rules, rules that are unjust, rules that demean human life, or make it impossible for citizens to reach out for their potential. Some rules have taken a long time, too long of a time, to be changed.

It has happened even in the church. Wrong and sinful things were justified and approved. People were segregated by social status and the color of their skin. Women were denied the opportunity to pursue God’s call on their life. (Some still deny them that right. And for those who sincerely believe I am wrong on this, it’s OK for you to be wrong. And if you take Paul’s “let women be silent in church” out of context, then I’ll take it out of context and say that women can’t sing in church! Yes, that’s me being snarky.)

Yes, rules have been changed. Those changes happened because there were rules that needed to be broken, urgently needed to be change. Why? Not because a group decided those rules were unfair. The rules weren’t changed so that some group could get their way. They were changed because those rules were unjust.

It’s the desire to change the rule in order have one’s own way at any cost that disturbs me most. There is an attempt in my Tribe to change the rules on Christian conduct; to change the definition of God-Approved Marriage. And when the rule won’t change, they live in open disobedience, with little or no consequences. And this desire to change the rules in order to get one’s desired outcome has led to chaos and anger; anger and chaos; and it’s ripping apart both our nation and church.

Yes, some rules need to be changed. But never, ever, ever simply to achieve some personal desire or wish. Rules that need to be changed are those of justice and keeping the doors of opportunity open to anyone and everyone. Changing the rules needs to be done through discernment, deep thought, and focused on the issues of justice and human dignity. The Electoral College is about as fair as it gets–so it’s not about justice. The Electoral College doesn’t take away human dignity. And this is for the cupcakes–when your candidate isn’t elected, it’s NOT a matter of dignity; it just that you act so UNdignified. So why change that rule? Changing rules to achieve one’s personal (and often selfish and void of common sense) desires, will only devolve into chaos–and that chaos will invite tyranny into the U.S.; something the Founding Fathers worked hard to prevent.

Spiritual Spam

How many people are listening to and believing what they are being told about God that should be put into the Spiritual Spam Folder and deleted?

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My sister-in-law will call me out on this because she loves Spam. I’ve noticed their commercials promoting the various ways you can use Spam. My personal favorite is the commercial that says:

But that’s not the reason for this brief post. This morning I was checking out my WordPress dashboard. At least once a week I try to check out the comments labeled, you guessed it, SPAM! In the years I’ve been writing, there have only been a couple of comments that were not SPAM. Yeah for Akismet! But this morning there were 2 comments:

Dreamwalker, this drop is your next piece of information. Feel free to contact the agency at your earliest convenience. No further information until next transmission. This is broadcast #4533. Do not delete.

Dreamwalker, this code is your next bit of data. Do transceive the agency at your earliest convenience. No further information until next transmission. This is broadcast #8867. Do not delete.

Now, did these 2 morons really believe I’m going to approve their comment? Dreamwalker isn’t even my moniker. But it got me to thinking about a different kind of SPAM–Spiritual SPAM.

How many people are listening to and believing what they are being told about God that should be put into the Spiritual Spam Folder and deleted?

Akismet has an algorithm that is designed to detect spam, And there is a Spiritual Algorithm that will help us sort through what is SPAM and what is NOT SPAM. But it doesn’t work as quickly and easily as Akismet. It requires YOU to do a lot of work, study and reflection. He is called The Holy Spirit. He uses this thing called The Bible to help us sort through the mess and mush of what is being passed off as Spiritual Truth but is nothing more than Spiritual Spam, Even frying it won’t help it.

My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.

1 John 4:1 (The Message)

Well excuse me now. I’m waiting for the agency to send me my next transmission. Oh….Love God with all your heart. Love others the way He loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him! This is broadcast #77777

A Prosthetic Grace

Grace without a lifetime of transformation??? It’s not real. It’s not grace.

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This morning, I was “provoked” to write. It was another provocation by the Holy Spirit. And as is His habit, He provoked me through another person. It happened as I was reading the blog See, There’s This Thing Called Biology (click here to read insanitybytes thoughts). It was the one she calls Why Do We Hate Grace?”

It made me think about the Great Debate going on in my Tribe, the United Methodist Church. While some have chosen to make it a debate about human sexuality, I see that it is something much more that this single issue. The real issue is Grace. There are some within our Orthodox Camp who show little grace to those who are struggling with their identity, but I’ll leave their narrow view of grace to another post.

I’m talking about the artificial grace from those with a progressive persuasion. They claim that because of grace, sin needs to be redefined. At the core is that the suffering of Jesus was designed to free a person from that nasty thing called sin. Grace gives us the authority to redefine everything. Not so fast, Buckeroo.

The grace that condones and encourages anyone to live outside God’s Intended Design, is not Real Grace, rather a prosthetic grace. I have nothing but deep respect admiration for our Wounded Warriors and others who have lost a limb and then proceed to live their life to the fullest through the use of that prosthetic limb. If you are one of these, know that you inspire me to do better, BE better.

But to insist that there is a form of grace that allows us to live by our desires, our feelings, our understandings–well, it’s not really grace. What I see is a progressive grace that denies people the opportunity to experience God’s Power of Transformation. And thus, their theology ceases to be progressive…it becomes regressive. Perhaps this explains the aggressive behavior of many within the progressive camp.

Listening to the stories of those who have those prosthetic limbs, I hear the difficulties and pain involved in learning to use these marvelous devices. Ask anyone who is required to use a prosthetic limb, “Which would you rather have, the real limb or prosthetic limb?”, and I believe that would answer, “The real one, of course.”

This false grace being promoted is filled with both difficulties and pain. False grace leaves no room for the true purpose of Grace–which is to engage us in a lifelong process of transformation. It is telling people you are a prisoner to your desires and feelings. And to the LBGTQI+ community I say, “God loves you, period. But His GRACE is made to liberate you from your feelings and desires about who you want to have sex with. You are not identified by your sexual desires. You are identified by the person God wants to make you. Because God is good, He will transform you into someone beautiful and wonderful.”

Grace without a lifetime of transformation??? It’s not real. It’s not grace. It’s a prosthetic to replace the real.

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

A Fantasy Life

fantasy.jpg

Fantasy is a word that has been hanging around my mental space.  I can’t shake that word so I guess it’s the Spirit prompting me to get back to writing.  What provoked that word in my gray space is all the hype I’m seeing and hearing about Fantasy Football.  I mean, networks, websites, podcasts, even magazines all about this cultural obsession with this thing called Fantasy Football.  They form leagues, have drafts, and each week they see how “their” players performed, and in some magical way, determine if their teams won or lost that week.

Me?  I’m an active college football fan and I am so excited that College Football begins this week.  (Roll Tide!)  Real teams gather on the gridiron.  Real players who have been practicing and honing their skills go face to face.  Real coaches who have been instructing players and working out the game plan put it on the line to see if they are prepared for this clash on the turf.  And I admit, I don’t understand this obsession of this alleged sport of football based on something that is not real.

But it has nudged me into thinking of other types of fantasies; fantasies that some people try to get through this thing called life.  Think of it from this definition of that word “fantasy“:

supposition based on no solid foundation

And I look at my culture and I realize that so many are trying to live, cope or simply survive on a supposition that has no solid foundation.  And I weep!   Many have a Fantasy Family.  Instead of providing moral guidance, parents choose to be friends.  Kids affections are bought.  And to maintain this facade, it’s ad infinitum debt all to maintain this supposition without a foundation that they are a family.

There’s Fantasy Church, where people define the church rather than to be defined BY the Body of Christ.  Regular gathering for study, worship and fellowship once meant every week.  Now we are being told that regular means once every 3-6 weeks.  Worship is defined by entertainment value.  Preaching is formed by the latest cultural values.  Those who attend expect to be the consumers of what the church produces.  Fantasy!  A supposition that has no solid foundation.

There’s Fantasy Purpose in life.  People give in to and pursue what the culture says is our true purpose.  People live for money, status, sexual identity, politics, football and the list goes on ad nauseam.  Purpose is rooted either in selfishness or in identities given to them by the culture.

And the list of other “fantasies” goes on.  And “life” has become a fantasy.  And for many, it’s become more of a nightmare fantasy, and for others?  Life seems just an empty pipe dream.  So they turn to the fantasy world to escape the vain and empty things.  So what is the alternative to the Fantasy Life?

God, the Creator of Life, never designed this life to be a dread, a drudge and a dead-end.  In Luke 12:22-32 (NLT) Jesus gives us the Truth about life:

22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

27 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

29 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”

The key to unlocking Life is first to come to the realization that, in Jesus’ own words, For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing.  Some of you may be thinking, “Well, duh!  Tell me something I don’t know!”  There is a second step that comes out of Verse 32–“So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”  It’s living in the Gift of Kingdom Living.  

God designed and created life to be lived in deep, caring and loving relationships.  As family, friends, neighbors, community, and even with strangers.  And these relationships take on meaning and give us purpose when we live them the way HE lives in Relationship with us.  It’s through Self-Giving.  It’s about caring more about others than self.  It is about helping, encouraging and inspiring others.  This Life is no fantasy and it’s not just another pipe dream.  It’s life as God designed it.  So walk with Him.  Listen to Him.  Talk to Him.  Lose your self, your sense of self-importance.  Lose your fears, your sense of worthlessness.

Make God happy–accept Life as He designed it to be–lived faithfully in relationship with Him, with others, and with yourself.  And don’t forget….

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

Is It Ego, Or Is It Self-Esteem?

esteem vs ego

In midst of all the chaos of recent weeks, I found myself thinking about self esteem and ego.  Perhaps it came out of my grieving the loss of my Mother and my deep concern for my Dad.  Perhaps it’s the reality that in about a week and a half we will be moving into a new home, serving 2 churches while leaving behind what I feel is unfinished work–but also leaving behind great friends and encouragers.  Whatever the cause, I know God wants me to write.  Turn of all electronic devices, return your trays and seats to the upright position and buckle your seat belts for take-off.

Contrary to a few would say, I don’t have that big of an ego–but I regularly battle my own self-esteem.  It is not as bad as it was when I was growing up.  But even after my first marriage, I still struggled with self-esteem.  I could say it was because of how some treated me–but that’s a cop-out.  I refuse to play the victim card.  And it wasn’t until I was 47, when my self-esteem completely crashed and burned, that God took me on a journey to see myself differently–than others saw me or how I even saw myself.

Since that time I find myself recognizing low self-esteem in others–and a new clarity about those with an ego problem.  In church you see both, but rarely, if ever, is it acknowledged.  Well, here is the epiphany I had about self-esteem versus ego.

Ego is all about self-importance.  Self-Esteem is all about value and worth!

Ego is that over-inflated sense of how important a person thinks they are.  Right now I have a couple of pictures in my mind of people I’ve encountered while here.  That sense of Importance focuses on the container–not the source.  They see themselves are being more important than others–and in the church–more important than the work of the Kingdom of God.  They push themselves into other conversations and run over anyone who dares to challenge them.  Ego equals Importance.

On the other hand, Self-Esteem is the recognition of your value and worth, to the One who created you.  HE has deemed and declared your worth, through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.  Jesus deemed and declared your worth by giving up the glory of heaven for a dirty diaper; and ultimately by His willingness, and insistence, to die on that Cross.  It is about recognizing your value as you live your life in Christ.  Those with the EGO accuse those of us who recognize our worth in Christ as being arrogant.  Talk about the kettle calling the pot black.

Ego is about seeing yourself as important.  Healthy Self-Esteem is seeing the worth that God sees in you–and accepting that His value of you comes fully alive in you as you become fully alive in Jesus.  Nothing is wrong with having Self-Esteem–don’t let the enemy make you feel guilty.  When you say you have no value or worth you are calling God a liar–and that, my friends, is NOT a good thing to do.  God’s image is in you–even if buried under years and mountains of bad choices (that means SIN).  Only the Creator, our FATHER, knows how to restore His image.  After all, He made you and knows you better than others know you–or you even know yourself.

Let me end this with Romans 12:3, from a new translation I recently came across.  It is known as The Passion Translation and it goes like this:

God has given me grace to speak a warning about pride. I would ask each of you to be emptied of self-promotion and not create a false image of your importance. Instead, honestly assess your worth by using your God-given faith as the standard of measurement, and then you will see your true value with an appropriate self-esteem.

God gives you value–He says, long before that commercial ever said it–because YOU are worth it!