LOOK WHO’S TALKING!

Question for you this morning: Do we speak for the Bible or does the Bible speak for us? No, it’s not the same thing! Folks, believe this or not, it doesn’t matter one single iota! The church today has a serious problem–when it comes to the answer of this question. In my own Tribe, the United Methodist Tribe, the given answer by leadership is literally ripping us apart. But before you Baptists gloat over our split, look at the beam sticking out of your own eye. And this isn’t just a 21st Century problem. It’s plagued the history of The Body Of Christ. The disease is speaking for the Bible rather than the Bible speaking for us–and thus–to us!

It was even a problem back when Jesus walked this earth as one of us. The Pharisees and Sadducces saw their job was to speak for The Word Of God. They thought it was their job description–but it wasn’t. And today, it isn’t in anyone’s job description to speak for the Bible. In my own Tribe we have those who are doing just that. Speaking FOR the Bible means it’s up to us to determine what it means and how it applies to daily life! Mishegas! Oy vey, nosh, klutz! It’s pure schlock! Pure bupkis! I love Yiddish words and phrases. Here’s some examples of speaking for the Bible.

  • Torturing and killing anyone NOT a “christian”–by their definition
  • Judging others based solely on their race
  • Justification of slavery
  • Making women as second class citizens by saying they can’t do certain things
  • Jesus only died for certain people (predestination)
  • The blood of Jesus wipes away every sin and gives us all a new beginning–except when it comes to divorce
  • Jesus came to show us how to love, so this eliminates the long-standing sexual ethic, so it’s OK to be how you feel, sexually speaking

On that last example–Oy, Oy Vey, Oy Gevalt! It’s Dreck! Our Tribal leaders feel it is their job description (remember how Jesus felt about the Pharisees and Sadducces?) to tell the world that the tried and proven sexual ethic from the Bible is outdated. It takes an enlightened person, like them, to straighten out what the Bible got wrong. And if we don’t agree with them, then we’re mean, ugly, phobic, and hateful. What a bunch of schmucks!

THE MORNING AFTER

Well, it seems that another National Championship wasn’t in the cards for The Crimson Tide. And the morning after? Here’s what I noticed. The Sun still rose. There was no Zombie apocalypse. The mountains didn’t collapse. There is no anarchy in the streets. My family and friends are still around. We have winter weather here in Alabama (which is still subject to change). Wall Street didn’t crash. The electrical grid didn’t fail. In short, life goes on. As I knew it would when I went to bed last night at 11:00 p.m. CST.

This is the nature of life on this orb called Earth. But serious things can happen to us and around us that may cause us to ask that question: “How can I go forward? How can I face The Morning After?” It may be the loss of income; the diagnosis of cancer; coming face to face with dementia in a loved one; your vehicle dies and leaves you without transportation; your spouse leaves; a family member dies; a close friend betrays you; you give in to temptation and the guilt is eating you alive. Or any of a countless number of things that leave us feeling crushed, guilty, disappointed, doubtful, hurting, or confused.

The Morning After can, I said CAN, result in the loss of peace, joy, purpose, and hope. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, there is another way to face The Morning After. Regardless of what caused it, or how we feel The Morning After, we have a choice in how we deal with it. If it is some sin you committed, choose 1 John 1:9–“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” If it’s feelings of abandonment by God, choose Psalm 23:4–“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” If it is doubt, then choose Philippians 5:6–“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

Every “The Morning After”, God has a promise for you. In His Promises are the means and the strength to get through to that other side. The causes do not define the outcomes for us. The outcomes are chosen by us. Make sure that your choice is to run back to God, and cling to Him as if your life depends on Him. Because it does!

NEW YEAR’S EVE 2021

Today is New Year’s Eve 2021. If you look at calendars, there are only two days with that designation of “Eve”–Christmas and New Year. There is no Thanksgiving Eve, Valentine’s Day Eve, St. Patrick’s Day Eve, Mother’s Day Eve, Father’s Day Eve–nope it’s not on the calendar. Never has been, and probably never will be. But today is one of two days designated as “Eve”. Look at the picture above and definition number two: the period preceding or leading up to any event. Let’s take a deep dive into the idea of an Eve.

Are you excited that this is New Year’s Eve? This morning I was thinking about other New Year’s Days. Specifically 2019–I mean who could have imagined what 2020 was going to bring? Church sanctuaries were closed. Businesses considered non-essential were closed. Stores had limited capacities. Us preachers unfamiliar with live-stream learned how to use Facebook Live (and I still use it). We had to purchase equipment to enable us to do drive-in church. People who were in the hospitals and nursing homes were denied visitors. And so much more. Then New Year’s Day 2021 shows up–and while some of the restrictions have been lifted–this ain’t been a glorious year for most.

But we’re talking about 2022. Are you excited about 2022? Today I am truly excited for several reasons. I don’t have to worry about a ruptured appendix, that happened in 2020. I am excited that today THE University of Alabama (Roll Tide!) will be playing in the Semi-Final for another National Championship (Roll Tide)! Yes, I get excited over certain things. Don’t you think Jesus was excited at the home of Zacchaeus when He said, “Salvation has arrived in this home!” Personally, I think Jesus was shouting at the top of His lungs! If your image of Jesus saying that is one of a solemn face and monotone voice–you need a different Jesus.

Every morning is an Eve–leading up to some event! And I believe this event is the Eve of God pouring out the fires of Revival across our nation and around the world! Why would I believe such a thing with the ways things are? Because I’m not looking at the way things are–I’m seeing them the way that God wants them to be. Each morning is The Eve Of God Doing Great Things In Hearts And Lives! See, there are more than 2 eves–every morning has both the potential and very real possibility to be a life-transforming day for us and everyone else. It’s there–we just need to recognize it.

When we get excited about the movement of The Holy Spirit–before we ever see it–we call that Faith! Faith isn’t about WHAT we see–but WHO we see! Today is the Eve of God doing what Paul said God does in 2 Corinthians Chapter 5 Verse 17 from The Message–Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life emerges! Did you see that word anyone? Anyone means anyone. Isn’t it exciting to see new life emerge? In just a very few weeks a new life will emerge in our family–our first great-grandchild! He’s going through a process, as is his Mommy. It’s not always been pleasant–and the delivery won’t be easy. But all of us will be so very excited about this precious wonderful new life! Will you get excited each morning knowing that this moment is the EVE of God bringing another Great Awakening? I’m excited! If you’re not, then you’ve got a serious problem. Now if you will excuse me, I’ve got some exciting things to do before Kickoff! And Roll Tide! Oh, here’s a song to help your mindset in the right place on this and every following Eve!

they happen on Tuesdays, too!

My “Oh Lord, It’s Monday” post talked about how Interruptions get in the way of life the way God intends. Well, guess what? A Monday can happen on a Tuesday…and it did to me. Sunday night Debbie, my wife, got that blessed “stomach bug”. I prayed for her to get over it quickly–but I didn’t pray for it to stay away from me. Another “Guess What?” for you this Thursday morning: Tuesday afternoon that “stomach bug”–I prefer the term “Spawn Of Satan”–hit me, too. I hope this isn’t too graphic for you–but my mouth revisited everything I had eaten the past 2 years, or so it seemed. About 2 hours later, Satan’s Spawn decided I needed to visit the Porcelain Altar again until it was sure absolutely nothing remained in my stomach.

And that got me to thinking–OK, so I’m one of the few who can get a lesson from a “stomach bug that’s really Satan’s Spawn”. The lesson is this: What The World Offers Us Comes Back On Us, And It’s Never Pleasant. The food I had enjoyed so much, that tasted so good the first time it was on my palate, tasted horrible the second time it was on my palate. (Again, I hope this wasn’t too graphic for the “delicate” folks out there.) That’s the nature of Sin! It always does!

Yet we go back to it again and again. The outcome is always the same. Progressives who teach that some sins are no longer sins bear proof of this axiom. People who live by their “insights” that parts of the Bible are wrong continue to be miserable. And so they blame us Orthodox folks for their misery–that if we would just accept their views, the misery would disappear.

Sin always tastes worse when it comes back up when we least need it to. That’s why God tells us to avoid it! Not to make us miserable–but to keep us from being miserable! How long will you and I keep going back to the Porcelain Altar regurgitating the effects of sin and keep believing one day it will taste as good the second time as it did the first time? Be confident of this–that Sin will always come back up on you. I’m not asking you to be honest with me–be honest to yourself! Think it through, people! Do you still need more convincing?

The man described as the wisest man ever, Solomon, tried to live his life outside of God’s design–in other words–in SIN! He wrote a book about it; we call it Ecclesiastes. And in the very first chapter, he lets us know what it’s like living without God’s guidance. He wrote in Verses 16 and 17–I said to myself, “I know more and I’m wiser than anyone before me in Jerusalem. I’ve stockpiled wisdom and knowledge.” What I’ve finally concluded is that so-called wisdom and knowledge are mindless and witless—nothing but spitting into the wind. I would say, “It’s like kneeling at the Porcelain Altar rehashing what I thought was good–but it ain’t!” For 2022, why not give up thinking that sin will ever taste good the second time around? And Solomon would agree with me–It’s never as good the second time as it was the first time!

The Domino Effect

Back before the swill and slop of Late Night shows such as Stephen Colbert and Noah Trevor, there were some good Late Night shows–Johnny Carson being one of them. I remember one of his guests was this person who had built an enormous display of falling dominoes. I couldn’t find it on YouTube, but the above video shows what I’m talking about. This incredible demonstration all began by knocking over one domino. All the others fell because of that one, single domino.

The Domino Effect doesn’t happen with only dominoes. One single event creates a cascade of effects beyond the initial event. Here’s a modern day example. President Biden orders the halting of the Keystone XL pipeline. This in turn created an instantaneous hike in the prices for fuel. This increase in fuel costs caused the agricultural industry to spend more to gather and process their products leading to an increase in food prices. It now costs more for shipping companies to get the goods to our stores. The retailer in turn has to charge more otherwise they go bankrupt. It costs us consumers more to go to the stores. Rising costs of fuel and staple items cost families and individuals more–leaving them with less disposable income. The same amount of income buys less since prices have risen and continue to rise. This is just one example of how one decision has an effect on so many other things.

And it’s not only in the arena of economics. One decision, one choice on our part has an impact–sometimes immediately–but always inevitably. The decision to be angry at someone or some event leads to frustration. That frustration creates anxiety. That anxiety fuels distrust. The distrust leads to doubt. The doubt leads to the loss of peace. The loss of peace leads to despair. The despair leads to that dark place where we either become bitter–or worse–we become apathetic.

The power of one decision goes way beyond the moment. As Serious Followers Of Jesus, as Citizens of the Kingdom of God, cannot afford to be involved in this downward spiral. And our world cannot afford it. There have been periods in the history of humanity, where one decision led to the collapse of friendships, families, communities, nations, and empires. And in those same times, the One Choice by a follower of Jesus became that First Domino that created opportunities for the transforming power of God’s grace to produce a different outcome. Think about this Domino Effect:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

Outcomes Matter, But Not Intentions–Throw It Out There Thursday 5 March 2020

(This is NOT a political post, though it addresses politics and other matters. I remind you that if you cannot think for yourself, or respect a person who has different views than you, then Reader Discretion is advised. Any resemblance to any political party or theological view past or present, is strictly coincidental. After all, it’s not my “intention” to offend you.)

Ever since the final results of the 2016 election were announced, there has been a movement by a group that shall remain nameless, to undo the results, and are even attempting to change our current form of government that they consider unfair because their candidate didn’t win. By the way, it’s a process that has served this nation well since 1804. Then this unnamed political movement attempted to unseat the winner of the 2016 election with an impeachment movement. Since November 2016, this unnamed political party has espoused nothing but disdain and hatred for the POTUS. All this hate against one person has created a culture of hated and disrespect. Here’s a couple of examples.

February 10, 2020 Gregory Timm drove his van into a voters registration tent in Jacksonville, Florida because of hate. Mr. Timm had no regard for the safety or life of these volunteers who were simply exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right. His hatred for the POTUS turned toward people engaging in our Democratic Republic. Hate consumed Mr. Timm.

Then on February 28, 2020 Denver, Colorado Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca declared that if she ever contracted the Coronavirus she would attend every Trump Rally. Deep is the hate that would cause Councilwoman CdeBaca to want to infect people–mothers, fathers, children–with the Coronavirus because they have a different political view. Really Councilwoman CdeBaca? You want the Coronavirus to spread even further?

The outcome of “not my president” and “impeach Trump” is that people desire to harm, even kill anyone who doesn’t agree with them. At one time this unnamed political party cared about all people. Now this unnamed political party only cares about those who agree with them. This unnamed political party has created an outcome with the environment of hate.

Now, those of you who support that unnamed political party will vehemently disagree with me. You will tell me, “We didn’t produce this outcome of hate and disregard of human life because that wasn’t our intention. Our intention was to make our nation stronger and better.” Well, guess what Snowflake–Intentions are NOT the same as outcomes. If I offended anyone by calling you a Snowflake, that wasn’t my INTENTION. Don’t blame me or say I’m being divisive or ugly. Remember, that’s not my INTENTION.

You see, your beliefs and your attitudes about your beliefs regardless of your intentions produces OUTCOMES. Those Outcomes then take on a life of their own. Think of those Outcomes as making a snowball at the top of a peak overlooking a town. You wonder how big that snowball would get if you rolled it down that slope. Then you roll that snowball and it begins moving down the slope. It gets bigger and bigger and obliterates the town below. Don’t act surprised that your little snowball destroyed that town. You didn’t INTEND to destroy that town. But the Outcome remains–you were responsible.

Intentions will hide the truth; but Outcomes will always reveal the truth.

So, in the future, don’t think about your intentions, because the road to hell is well paved with intentions. Think about OUTCOMES. Outcomes requires that you look beyond the immediate–beyond what you want–beyond what others tell you what you want. Intentions won’t change the direction of our great, but sinking nation. By working together on a set of Outcomes that shows respect and dignity for everyone we can see real culture change. Outcomes that will build people up–not run over them with a van or wish they had the Coronavirus are what we need.