Things That Don’t Go Together!

This morning I’m stuck inside the house–because of ice and snow. It’s currently 14 degrees with a wind chill of 7 degrees. I know, those of you north of the Mason-Dixon Line aren’t impressed. But here in Alabama–it is a big deal! I just finished my shave and shower because I have yet another Zoom Meeting. And I started thinking. So fasten your seat belts and hold on.

What I am thinking about are things that simply DO NOT GO TOGETHER. More than just not fitting–they do not even belong in the same universe. Here’s my list:

ICE, SNOW, AND THE SOUTH!

HYPER-CALVINISTS AND WESLEYANS

OIL AND WATER

ELECTRIC MUSTANGE
(who is the moron that had this idea? They need to be sterilized to save future generations from this idiocy. They are genetically related to the next one.)

ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLE
(Sorry, sissies, it ain’t a motorcycle without the rumble!)

GOING FISHING WITH JUST ONE BAPTIST!
(If you don’t take two Baptists with you, they will drink all of your beer)

BAPTISM BY IMMERSION AND A CAT

TREE HUGGERS AND LOGGERS

ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS AND HUNTERS, CATTLE-CHICKEN-HOG FARMERS

DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS

CHRISTIAN DEMOCRAT

CHRISTIAN REPUBLICAN

There’s more but let’s take a quick and honest look at the last two. In both cases, it’s that demonic influence of what is called THE JESUS AND DISEASE. If you lean to the Democratic Party, that’s your choice. If you lean to the Republican Party, that’s your choice. Just don’t mix the two of them. When you mix your religion with your politics it is a recipe for disaster. Jesus refused to align with politics. Paul refused to align with politics. And if you aren’t convinced, then you have not learned from history or have forgotten history. Does anyone remember The Inquisition?

Some things simply do not go together–and they never will. The Kingdom Of God and anything else. Don’t go together. Don’t work together. Don’t fit together. Never have. They never will!

The Americanization Of The Gospel

Let’s stop trying to “make” this a Christian nation and instead BECOME the nation God has called us to be.

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 This is from an older post. When I started blogging I made a promise to myself to never re-post a blog because I wanted my material to always be fresh. Well, early this morning, The Spirit asked me, “Would you like salt and pepper for eating crow?” Needless to say, this morning’s post was from a few years ago, August 3, 2016. I’ve updated some personal references and edited some of my typical errors, a.k.a. typographical errors. It just seems that this is the Word God wants me to share this morning. It seems that Solomon was right, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

   Before I begin sharing my heart I must, in all honesty, begin with a warning and a disclaimer.  The warning is that due to the mature subject matter, some may find this offensive, even to the point of labeling me something I am not.  The disclaimer is that I am NOT being unpatriotic.  I fly our country’s flag at our home.  I stand at attention with my hand over my heart when the national anthem is being played.  I am very patriotic for many reasons–I appreciate the many freedoms we enjoy and I have a son and son-in-law who are combat veterans. Since this was first published my son, Matthew has retired from the military (and now serving in law enforcement). My son in law, Michael, continues to serve in defense of our wonderful nation.  I am very proud of Matthew and Michael and every day I pray they will never have to go back into harm’s way.  With this being said, I want to share something with you that has been troubling my heart and mind.

     I am acutely troubled by the emotional climate that exists in our nation in this current election cycle.  I am seeing and hearing a lot of conversations that are soaked with frustrations, anger and fear, especially around this current Presidential election.  My deepest concerns are the words I see and hear from the “Christian” community.  Many of my friends are saying that this is THE sign that Jesus is about to return because the wrong person was elected.  Others are saying that America is doomed.

     I am left wondering, “Why so much concern about who sits in the chair behind that desk in the Oval Office?  Why does that thought create such anger or even fear?”  Regardless of who sits there, God is still God.  He is still sovereign.  He is still in control.  The waves and the winds still know and obey the voice of Jesus.  In a message series it was something I said that inspired this blog.  It came from a series based on Ecclesiastes, that book where Solomon shares all the things he tried to find a life with meaningful purpose that would give us that deep and abiding peace with joy.  Of the many things Solomon tried one was the political process.  He described putting our hope on the political process was like “chasing the wind.”  During that message, here is what I said:  “The hope for the United States is not about who sits in the chair behind the desk of the oval office, but rules on the throne of your own heart.”

     I listen with all respect to the passion of the many voices who spend their time and energy on their desire for the United States to become once again a Christian nation.  There seems to be a lot of passion and energy as well as fear being expended in this idea that God, and thus the Gospel, wants us to create a Christian nation.  Now comes the offensive part so brace yourselves for you have been warned.  Jesus never asked us to follow Him in order to set upon this earth a Christian nation.  God hasn’t called us or anyone to create a Christian nation.

     If you, the reader, are among the many here in the United States that sincerely believe that God wants us to create and maintain this Christian nation and are now offended (and maybe even labeled me a heretical liberal), I have one word for you:  Good!  About six and a half ago years God turned my theology and understanding about the collective gathering we call the church on its ear.  Well, actually He helped me move from upside down to right side up, by reminding me the work of the collective body called the church is not about what we call church work, but Kingdom Work.

     Out of this has God has brought me back to a familiar verse from which directs my thoughts and words in this blog, and why I do not think God wants us to be so adamant about this being a Christian nation.  It is from 1 Peter 2:9-10 and I want to share it from both the New Living Translation and from the Message:

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people.  You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession.  As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.  “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people.  Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”

New Living Translation

 But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

The Message

   The call of God is about more than a piece of real estate.  Notice Peter’s carefully selected word:  YOU!  We, who have been called out by God only because of His grace and mercy, are to be royal priests that are to be collectively formed, under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, to be this holy nation.  It is just like the church.  We never, ever go to church if we are doing it right.  WE are the church, not a piece of real estate.  The real church never has a single address, nor does it exist within multiple campuses.

     The church exists wherever you happen to be at that moment, that is, if you are have some clarity about the nature of the church.  And within our collective body our work is to be Kingdom Work.  Kingdom Work is about restoring people to what Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert describe in the book When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . . and Yourself as the 4 key relationships God intended in creation for us.  They describe these 4 key relationships as relationships with God, self, others, and the rest of creation.  Poverty exists when 1 or more of these relationships are broken.

     One way that I see that we have Americanized the Gospel is in how we define and treat poverty.  In their book, Corbett and Fikkert point out because of our American bias, we define poverty as the lack of material substance.  So we treat poverty with material substance.  And be honest, how has this worked out?  IF poverty is the lack of material substance (which it’s NOT), then we should have solved the problem a long time ago.  Instead of solving the problem, people continue to live in broken relationships with God, self, others, and the rest of creation.  Even we who call ourselves Christians experience poverty in one or more of these relationships.

     The Work of God’s Kingdom ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve has been to restore His most loved part of creation to those 4 key relationships.  It is in these 4 relationships that we reflect His nature, His heart, and His glory.  And it is within these key relationships that we begin to live out our created design and purpose.  And here is where I believe that we “American” Christians have forgotten something that should never be forgotten.  I am convinced that much of our dysfunction as a nation (notice I did not say “Christian Nation”) is that we have chosen to ignore this absolute truth.

     God calls us to proclaim the Kingdom right smack dab in the middle of the Enemy’s Kingdom.  Albeit the kingdom of Satan is temporary, still at this time he rules it.  Do you remember what Jesus said to Pilate when questioned about being a King?

Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom.  If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36 NLT)

     If Jesus wasn’t interested in establishing an earthly kingdom, meaning “a nation”, then why are so many of us obsessed with having one in the United States?  Here is my thought:  We have forgotten that God has placed us in the middle of enemy territory for the purpose of spiritual warfare (and remember this warfare isn’t against people, corporations or governments, but the Evil one) to reclaim those whom God created in HIS image, but have been disfigured with the image of the Enemy.  I’m sitting here wondering if Christians in places like Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia, and a host of other nations ruled by petty despots, are wondering, “Why are those Americans so up in arms about that election?  Every day we live under the threat of imprisonment and death and it hasn’t slowed the Kingdom down one little bit.  Truth is, God’s Kingdom is growing here but declining there.”

     I want to challenge you stop insisting that our job as Disciples of Jesus Christ is to make sure this great nation with so many wonderful freedoms turn back to becoming a Christian nation.  You may think I am dishonoring our Founding Fathers and their desire and intent.  Are you aware that some of our Founding Fathers were Deists?  Deists believe in a divine creator but not in the Trinitarian God.  Though they rejected the idea of Jesus, they understood the importance of freedom of thought, speech, and yes, religion.

     Let’s stop trying to “make” this a Christian nation and instead BECOME the nation God has called us to be.  A nation that exists, not on real estate, but a PEOPLE who faithfully live out as His priests, Royal Priests!  Forget Republican or Democrat priests–let’s be Royal Priests who serve not a political ideology or party or even flag, but The King of all Kings!  Would you love to see a culture shift in the United States?  A culture shift that moves away from political ideologies, from greed and selfishness, from that sense of entitlement, and from the idea that as Disciples of Jesus we are supposed to establish a “Christian” nation?  Then remember where your citizenship lies and under whose command you serve.

     Stop freaking out about Donald and Joe and instead focus on your own brokenness in the 4 Key Relationships–God, self, others and the rest of creation.  And then step into the Territory of the Enemy and share your brokenness with others who are broken and say to them, “Let’s walk together out of our brokenness towards the only One who can restore us to who we truly are.”  Don’t worry about the nation–BE the Nation of people called out by God to walk through the Enemy’s territory with the light of His love, grace and mercy.  I was reading the other day but unfortunately I did not write down the source of it, but here are my closing words:  95% of Christians pass the test of adversity but 95% of Christians fail the test of prosperity.

The Inauguration

If you think your god can’t win with Biden in the White House, then my friends, you are serving the wrong God!

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Being what it is, I bet you’re thinking I’m talking about the Inauguration of our President-Elect Biden. If you are a citizen of the U.S. as I am, he IS our President. If I join in the voices from 4 years ago, “NOT MY PRESIDENT”, I fail to be a good citizen of the U.S., and I tarnish my other citizenship–citizen of The Kingdom Of God. Want a Bible Verse to prove my point? OK…remember you asked for it.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

1 Timothy 2:1-2

Well, if I’m not writing about the Inauguration of President Biden, then which inauguration am I writing about? I’m writing about an inauguration that happened that happened a long, long time ago. It’s the inauguration of the beginning of a Kingdom that has no end–a rule that will last throughout eternity. Here’s a portion of the text:

20 “See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. 21 Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. 22 But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you.

Exodus 23:2-22

God has led the Hebrews out of bondage and on a journey to The Promised Land. This is God’s inaugural speech. God promises to send “an angel”–“THE Angel”. He’s talking about the Holy Spirit. I just heard someone say, “Hey! The Holy Spirit isn’t an angel.” And I would readily agree–He’s NOT an angel. But the original text wasn’t in English. The Hebrew word is mal’ak means “messenger, representative”. The Holy Spirit is the perfect and ultimate Messenger and Representative of God because He IS God.

Look carefully, very carefully at Verse 22–“But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you. Do you understand what God is saying here? I mean, REALLY UNDERSTAND? He’s telling the Hebrews that HE will fight FOR them. And when God fought FOR them, a battle was never lost. And God fought FOR them under one condition: you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions.

Jesus refused to be a political or military Messiah. Even as He faced Pilate, Jesus was very clear: “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.” The enemy we face every day doesn’t belong to any political party. He is an adversary that doesn’t seek a political office–but to rule from the throne of your heart.

When you become angry, bitter, resentful, and fight against ANY President-Elect, you become an instrument of our Adversary, Satan. Instead, become what Paul instructed and challenged young Timothy to be: that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. If you think your god can’t win with Biden in the White House, then my friends, you are serving the wrong God! My God doesn’t depend of even need the one who sits in the Oval Office in order to win. Of this I am confident.

How can I be so confident of this? Easy! I’ve read the last chapter of Revelation. When we listen to THE (Angel) Messenger–THE Holy Spirit–we don’t have to fight political parties. God promises that when we align our daily lives with His Instructions, then our enemies become HIS enemies. Do you really want to see this nation change in ways that bring God the glory? Then leave the fighting up to God–after all, HE has never lost a battle.

The Three Most Important Words. . .in times like these

(Picture at Fort Morgan Beach, Alabama)

The greatest generation ever was those who fought in World War II. I would like to think that my generation was the second greatest generation. Why? We spent more time outside than inside. We had sweat beads around our necks in the summer. We could turn the right stick into a Thompson sub-machine gun. We didn’t think much about stepping in cow manure. We drank water from the hose pipe. We jumped off of bridges into creeks. Best friends could have fights and after the fight, still be best friends.

We watched violent cartoons with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Elmer Fudd, the Road Runner and Wile E Coyote, yet we never had the desire or even urge to to shoot someone or order bomb making materials from Acme. Oh! One more thing–we had the very best music! Country music was COUNTRY Music and rock-n-roll was ROCK-N-ROLL. One of our songs was “What The World Needs Now Is Love”, recorded by Jackie DeShannon in 1965.

And now it is 2021, and the question begs to be asked and answered: What Are The Three Most Important Words For Right Now? I have been listening, and have advanced to the level of Intermediate Noticer. Based on what is being said and shouted, here is my comprehensive yet incomplete list of what different people are thinking is the answer to the 3 most important words needed for these times. In no particular order they are:

  • We need Trump
  • We need Biden
  • Ban all guns
  • Need more guns
  • Prayer in schools
  • Bibles in schools
  • Close the borders
  • New American revolution
  • End foreign aid
  • Drain the swamp
  • More government aid
  • Congressional term limits
  • Less on defense
  • More on defense
  • Change your mind
  • Change YOUR mind
  • We need love
  • We need peace
  • We need hope
  • Have judicial reforms
  • No more racism
  • New political party (I must say this, “Really??? Aren’t political parties part of the problem??? And you want to add to the sewage?”)
  • We need kindness
  • We need determination
  • Deport all Republicans
  • Deport all Democrats
  • New moral values
  • Old moral values
  • Legalize more drugs
  • Government medical care
  • Defund Law Enforcement
  • Something, Anything, Everything

There are more to add to this list. Some “imagined” solutions are more complicated than three words. As if our world isn’t complicated enough. There are no simplistic solutions to the problems our culture and nation are facing. But. . .the solution is simple; just that simple. This list reflects groups of people–group mentalities. Group mentalities tend to produce complicated, complex, and irrelevant solutions. The answer–the simple but not simplistic answer–is found in three words:

I Need Help!

All of the fake solutions to our issues are focused on what others need to do–never on what the individual needs to SAY! To say “I NEED HELP” is to acknowledge that NOTHING–NO THING OUT THERE–can help heal our brokenness and help us navigate this total mess. If nothing OUT THERE (I refer you to the above list as being “out there”) that can help and heal us–then the answer must be UP THERE! I’m talking about the One Constant in an ever changing universe and culture–the Throne of God.

To end this madness, the place to begin is with the person in your mirror–that’s YOU! To say “I Need Help” is to admit the limitations created by sin and the Hope found only when we surrender completely and unconditionally to God. My best days happen when I begin the day, end the day, and admit every moment between beginning and ending, “I Need Help!” My worst days happen when I fail to say it. My mediocre days happen when I forget to say it throughout the day.

It’s simplistic to approach life saying that others need to change. Simplistic solutions have never worked. But solving this crisis is really simple. Admit your own need for God and trust God to both change and guide YOU–not “them”! Let your words be the words of the Psalmist:

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

Psalm 121 (NLT)

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.

And The Winner Is

Tonight I felt the need to prognosticate the losers of tomorrow’s election. Why the losers? Maybe it comes from listening to a radio program from decades ago called “Leonard’s Losers”. While most football analysts picked winners, Leonard Postero picked the losers in a most entertaining way by using unique words and phrases. I do not have the poetic touch of Leonard, so I will use my best Sgt. Joe Friday style. “Just the facts, mam.”

Before I get to my list of losers, allow me to augment my thoughts this evening. Voting Is NOT A Right! You read correctly. VOTING IS NOT A RIGHT! Before you armchair Constitutional Experts rake me over hot coals, then tar and feather me, read my next thought, THEN decide if you want to continue to pursue your violent intentions against me. Voting Is A Privilege! It is a Privilege because much blood and loss has occurred so that this Representative Republic could continue. It is a Privilege because WE THE VOTERS have been entrusted with the special gift of electing our leaders from the local level all the way up to the highest office of the land. And that, my friends, must be viewed as a Privilege, and not a right. Many nations today would love to have this Privilege. Now, on to “Randy’s Losers”!

The First Loser is the voter whose candidate won the election, but the voter boasts and gloats as if THEY were the candidate.. They insult and belittle those who voted for the other candidate. Rather than encouraging working together, this Loser creates more tension and alienation. Here, the night before the election, we already have too much tension and alienation. We don’t need anymore. But that’s not the only Loser.

The Other Loser is the voter whose candidate did NOT win the election. Unlike The First Loser who gloats and boasts, The Other Loser makes the choice to whine and cry. They will talk about the unfairness of it all. Well, guess what?

The Other Loser defines fairness as them getting what they want. If they don’t get what they want, then it’s Unfair. My deepest concern is that The Other Loser will create more hate and hysteria tomorrow night. Look, we already have too much hate and hysteria tonight. We do not need more tomorrow; or the day after, of the day after that, after that, after that…you get the point.

Our nations needs Winners. A Winner is someone who puts their ideology and political demagoguery aside so that we can become united for the sake of The Republic. The mistake Voters are making is that they love politics more than The Republic. Soldiers suffered and died–not for politics–they suffered and died for The Republic. The United States is more than politics–but when politics becomes more important than working for the betterment of others–well, The Republic known as the United States of America, will not last much longer. Nobody who is worth their weight in salt wants to be around a Loser. And anybody worth their weight in salt wants to be around a Winner.

Whatever the results–BE A WINNER!

MY ENDORSEMENTS FOR THE 2020 ELECTIONS

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That’s right–I’m issuing my first ever list of endorsements for the 2020 election cycle. Crazy year, right? I know some are thinking right now, “Wait, you can’t do that by the IRS rules! That’s not the role of the preacher!” Maybe our spiritual mess is because pastors and preachers are more concerned about what others say they should or shouldn’t do. But today I’m feeling like, “What the heck! Throw caution to the wind!”

I am confident in what I am about to say because I have discovered the wisdom of separating “religion” from “politics”. It’s really easy to separate the two for me because I don’t have a “religion”. I have a relationship with God. And I have uncovered the wisdom that comes from above that doesn’t want us to be a Christian nation, but to be a nation of Christians. To be a nation of Christians one doesn’t need politics–though many of my fellow evangelicals seem to think we do. Well. . .we don’t need politics.

Separating my politics from my faith has led me to this “endorsements” blog. I just heard someone thinking, “Wait a minute preacher! Don’t you want elected officials to be Christian?” That would be nice, for sure–but it would be even better if citizens of the U.S. were first and foremost citizens of The Kingdom of God. Oops, it seems I am taking a journey to justify my own views. So enough of the “why”!

Here is my list of endorsements! (Drum roll, please!) I endorse for every office from local to state to federal the following:

The candidate the supports, upholds, and defends the U.S. Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic!

That’s it! I choose to not listen to the mudslinging ads or any of the mainstream media’s explanations of who I need to vote for. I look at the person and their platform in light of the above statement. Sometimes that means I have to choose the lesser of two evils. This is not a preferred choice for me–and we wouldn’t have to if voters educated themselves, more ordinary and honest citizen run for office, if voters would start thinking for themselves, and if voters would not think they are throwing away their vote by voting for good and honest people.

From the perspective of a citizen of the greatest country in the world, I encourage you to vote for the candidate that upholds, maintains, defends and supports the U.S. Constitution. This election cycle it may require us to vote for the lesser of two evils. It’s too late to change the slate of candidates. AND it’s not too soon to prepare for the next election cycle. Don’t vote your religion–vote for the document that has blessed us with this nation of liberties and freedoms.

Posters To Social Media–Change My Mind

This is directed to all those angry posts on social media revolving around politics and political parties by those who self-identify as Christian. I have a question for you: “Do you think God is really glorified with those negative political posts? Do you think those posts reflect HIS Character?”

Truth time: You are dishonoring His Character and misrepresenting His Kingdom. Shame on you! Change my mind about this!

WHY, GOD?

This is the first in the most recent series of messages I have been sharing
1 This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received in a vision.  2 How long, O Lord, must I call for help?  But you do not listen!  “Violence is everywhere!”  I cry, but you do not come to save.  3 Must I forever see these evil deeds?  Why must I watch all this misery?  Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence.  I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight.  4 The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts.  The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted.

I have said at other times that no message or series has been more difficult for me than the one I am sharing.  And this new series is proving itself to me, to be the most difficult one ever.  I’m calling it Why, God?  Notice the use of the comma.  It would be much easier for me to talk about Why God?  Why God speaks about our need for God.  But that pesky comma, Why, God? speaks into the season we are in today.

We are living in a season like none other before.  We have this Pandemic of Covid-19 and we are seeing a lot of racial unrest.  I also see that the core of this season of racial unrest is a symptom of something else that has been going on for some time now— and that is Social And Political Unrest.  The fabric that is meant to hold us together in a common society is being cut and ripped apart. 

I am compelled to speak into this chaos.  I would rather not and tackle an easier word.  But I Firmly Believe This Mess We Are In Has A Message.  Unfortunately, it may not be the message that people inside and outside of church want to hear.

We are going to begin this series with an honest discussion around the question that many are asking out loud, and many more that are wondering about inside their hearts and minds but are afraid to ask.  Why, God?  Why Are Things Like They Are Right Now?  Why This Covid-19, This Racial, Social, And Political Unrest? 

I believe this is a question that needs to be asked and explored.  So be prepared for some hard or difficult things I will share with you.  And at the risk of losing some of you—I will honestly say upfront that I may not have a neat answer to the question—I may not even have a good answer for the question.

And let me be upfront and honest with this disclaimer:  I Am Not An Expert On The Ways That God Thinks.  My answers may not be your answers as to the Why Question.  Know that I am not expecting you to agree with anything I say.  I won’t be disappointed with anyone who disagrees with me. 

My personal goal, and the goal of this Series, is that you will not be afraid to ask God questions, and that you think through your own answers—without using the standard issue replies that are dressed in a Polly Anna or The Born Loser view of life.  I am convinced that oversimplified answers to the Why Question are only adding to the frustrations and fears. 

Posting things on Social Media with the line “Repost if you believe in Jesus” aren’t helping.  Reality Check folks: Reposting And Quoting Scriptures Isn’t Going To Help!  So What Will Help?  I believe raw honesty helps more than posting and quoting Scriptures.

Look, it’s not that life Could Be difficult and hard.  If you can handle the truth, then here it is—The Truth Is That Many Times Life IS Difficult And Hard.  None of us are exempt from the troubles and pressures of life.  And if anyone tells you that you can live a happy and pain-free life as a Christian—they are lying to you and they should be ashamed of themselves for deceiving you. 

I have been a pastor for nearly 46 years, and in those 46 years I have read and studied the Bible extensively.  In that same 46 years I have had a lot of personal experiences and I’ve been a part of other people’s experiences.  I have seen joy—and I’ve seen the doubt and deep pain brought on by life as it really is—the fear and hurt that comes with those difficult experiences. 

I am going to try, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to be totally Honest with you.  And sometimes coming face to face with Honesty is not very easy.  And know ahead of time that my Honesty may not fit in with The Truth.

If anything, the writers of the Bible are Honest—more than Honest, they are Painfully Honest.  There is page after page, story after story, which speaks Honestly—but not always be The Truth.  Think about Job—not everything in there is The Truth—but everything there is Painful Honesty.  In Ecclesiastes Solomon writes Honestly about His Feelings—though some of his conclusions about God are not true.  But His Conclusions About The Pain And Difficulties Of LifeThey Are Most Definitely True

There’s the book of Lamentations—where Jeremiah blames God for everything that happened to Jerusalem.  And there’s this passage we begin with from Habakkuk.  Habakkuk, this prophet of God, Honestly believes that God isn’t listening and that He has forgotten all about him.  And true to human nature, it’s easier to blame God than accept responsibilities for our choices. 

That’s exactly what Adam did—he blamed God.  And here’s the truth that many will disagree with me—God Didn’t Destroy Jerusalem.  God didn’t point His finger at Babylon and manipulate them into doing what He wanted to be done.  The blame for the destruction of Jerusalem lies squarely at the feet of those who rejected God by choosing another way.  God didn’t have to punish them—they punished themselves by rejecting the ageless truth of God—and that rejection reaped them a whirlwind and a hurricane of consequences.

And all of this that’s going on all around us?  I am about to say something that many may disagree with—and remember I warned you.  I want you to think deeply.  This is it:  God Is Not Causing Any Of This To Happen.  Covid-19 Is NOT God Punishing Our Nation And World.  God Is Not Pointing His Finger To Manipulate People To Create This Hate And Chaos. 

What I see happening here in the U.S. with the unrest, what I see happen in the U.S. and around the world with Covid-19 is The Consequences Of Generations Of People Abandoning God’s Principles For Another Way.  We are reaping the same whirlwind and hurricane that Habakkuk and Jeremiah were seeing in their day.

One of the blogs I read is Walking With A Limp.  Here’s what the writer, Joe Misek, had to say about his title:  “The reason why I title my blog Walking With a Limp is because I believe our faith and our humanity is meant to be lived out not hiding our brokenness.  In fact, the Bible even has an entire genre of literature dedicated to expressing pain, grief, anger, and brokenness:  Lament.” 

In a recent blog he wrote:  “We don’t do Lament well in the modern American church.  In fact, we often arrange our entire experience of corporate worship to be happy.  Lament sounds dark and depressing; it is uncomfortable if you hear it and you are in a ‘happy place’ in your life.  But the Lament is not in the entertainment business and doesn’t appeal to consumers.  It is reality.  It is healing.” 

Joe is right—unlike Job, Solomon, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk we don’t handle Lamenting very well.  We either hold all our pain, doubts and questions in—or we adopt a lifestyle of being happy all the time while masking what’s really going on inside us.  Many often chastise others and themselves for even thinking about that question of Why, God? 

I don’t really know all the whys about why we aren’t truthful with ourselves and with God in this time.  Maybe it’s because we’ve had long years of comfort here in the United States.  We have forgotten or never really learned how to Lament.  It seems we would rather find someone or something To Blame than to become broken over our own lives and the world.

The Ability To Lament Comes Out Of 2 Things:

  1. The Pain Of Realizing Something Isn’t Right.  It’s being broken over what’s wrong to the point that makes us restless and deeply hurting.  And here is another hard truth:  We Don’t Like To Hurt—we avoid pain as if it were some sin.  But it’s not.  Many today are trying to make their hidden pain go away by not admitting something isn’t right and then justifying themselves.  In the LBGTQ community, they blame their pain on those who will not agree with their justification.  Racial Unrest is the result of blaming history for their pain and the reality that some still hold on to racist views.  Political Unrest is the result of blaming those who don’t see things their way.  And the Social Unrest is the result of blaming others rather than accepting responsibility for our own choices.
  2. Then It Takes An Honest Vulnerability To Express That Pain Of Being Broken And Living In A Broken World.  I’m talking about raw emotions—like the raw emotions we see in the lives of Job, Solomon, Jeremiah and Habakkuk.  I’m not talking about finding out who or what is to blame. Blaming isn’t the same thing as Lamenting

I’m not talking about moaning and groaning, whining and complaining—God knows we are good at that.  Many have taken this to an art form or made it a science.  Whining and complaining, moaning and groaning are cheap substitutes that help us avoid confronting the real issues—issues that are eroding our culture, our own hearts, and are hurting others.  It takes little effort and even less thoughtful reflection to moan and groan or whine and complain.  It just gushes out of us without any effort.

And here is the one thing you need to remember from today’s message:  The Only Way To Find Our Way Forward And Navigate This Broken Culture Will Only Begin When We Recover The Ability To Lament.  Lamenting requires a different focus for us. 

This week I came to a most unusual, perhaps unorthodox view about LamentingLamenting is another learned Spiritual Discipline.  Spiritual Disciplines never happen automatically.  They require both intentions and diligence.  I can’t remember ever studying about Lamenting as a Spiritual Discipline or reading a book that taught Lamenting as a Spiritual Discipline.

I’m not saying I haven’t—maybe I have and it these times that are bringing it up in my spirit and heart.  Quoting Scriptures and motivational phrases will not change our culture.  The Key is to become broken, and then Lamenting—about ourselves and our world.  Do you need an example?  Good, because there is the best example ever.

It’s Jesus!  In Luke 19:41-44 we see:  But as He came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep.  “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace.  But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you.  Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.

It was too late for Jerusalem, but it’s not too late for us and the world.  And because WE can’t follow Jesus and stay where we are, we need the Next Step. 

In Our Hearts And Minds, Replace The Idea Of Blame With The Truth  That We And Our World Are Broken And Hurting.

Are you really broken over our world?  Or are you frustrated?  Are you angry?  And are you wanting to escape by desiring the return of Jesus more than the return of people back to Jesus?

For the next few weeks, I want us to look at how we can reclaim the Art And Discipline Of Lamenting.  Admit it, nothing we are doing now is making a difference.  Maybe, just maybe, a good old fashioned Lament will make a difference.

A Very Special Thank You

This post is to say “Thank You” to three very special groups: The News Media, The Entrepreneurs, and The Collectors (otherwise known as HOARDERS). In a time when gratitude seems to be rarely appreciated as a virtue and even more rarely expressed, it behooves me to be both grateful and express my gratitude. In these times I feel the need to give each of these groups the recognition they so rightly deserve, as well as a note of “Thanks” for what they have done and continue to do.

THE NEWS MEDIA

First to the news media folks. Where do I begin? There are so many things you are responsible for that needs to be recognized, along with my thanks. Why not start with the biggie? Thank You for bringing the COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS to everyone’s attention. We would have never known about it if it were not for your diligence. You have sounded the alarm for the whole world to hear. But I have to ask, “Why didn’t you warn us about the other Influenza Viruses, like Swine Flu, H1N1 for example. More people have been infected by this virus and died from this virus than with the Coronavirus. But you didn’t bother even to notify anyone of this more potentially deadly virus. Hey! But to your credit you did warn us about Coronavirus.

And the way you have presented this news, is absolutely out of this world. You have painted a picture that Coronavirus is related to the swarming locusts, just waiting to fall out of the sky and kill us all. You rarely , if ever mention that this latest virus has a 97-98% survivability, which is right in line with Type A and Type B Influenza strains. But this fact never got in your way did it? THANK YOU for ignoring facts in order to get out the warning.

And because of YOU, NEWS MEDIA, there is more than Spring in the air. It’s full blown paranoia and pandemonium. The result of this paranoia and pandemonium is that many small busy owners, those Mom and Pop, the Family businesses are about to go under. More than income, many will lose their homes because they took out a second mortgage to build their dream. Thanks for crushing their dreams and ensuring that Mega-Businesses will step in and take their place. THANK YOU for pushing out small businesses. Leave business to the Big Guys.

I don’t know what you were thinking when you created this monster. I’m really trying to understand your perspective. If I could just see what’s going on inside your heads maybe I would understand it better. But there simply are some things I WILL NEVER DO; taking a walk inside your minds is one of those things. So, I say THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR UNLEASHING PANIC, PANDEMONIUM AND THEIR SISTER, FEAR!

THE ENTREPRENEURS

All I can say to you Entrepreneurs is WOW! You had the vision and foresight to clear the shelves and place toilet paper and hand sanitizer on E-Bay and Amazon Marketplace. Not only that, but you had the courage to price those items 10, 20, even 30 times their manufacturers suggested retail prices. You, yes YOU ENTREPRENEURS, had for a while, the world at your feet. You took one of the things that made this nation great, ingenuity, and took it to a whole different level!

THANK YOU for making it difficult for people who really needed those items. You revealed your true character in the ways you took advantage of this current crisis. You made your prices so high, that the poor and working poor could not even afford those items. But you knew that there would be idiots and morons who would pay whatever price you posted. And your wealth would have increased even more had E-Bay and Amazon not pulled your ads. But I am sure you will find another way to dig deeper into the pockets of your neighbors and fellow Americans. THANK YOU FOR SHOWING THE POWER OF GREED AND BEING SO INCONSIDERATE OF YOUR FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS.

THE COLLECTORS–KNOWN AS HOARDERS

I have saved my last THANK YOU for those who can always be counted on to increase daily sales revenues and sales tax collections for local and state governments whenever there is a crisis. Yes, you HOARDERS are providing an economic stimulus unparalleled by anything or anyone else. Big Corporations count on you to help provide those extra big bonuses at the end of the year for that inner circle that does little to produce anything for the whole year.

THANKS to you HOARDERS in this current crisis, people who can’t afford to rush out and buy their BASIC NECESSITIES of life, are reminded that the poor are nothing but a burden to society. You are sending them a clear message that their life doesn’t count for much, if anything. THANK YOU HOARDERS FOR SHOWING EVERYONE THAT LIFE ISN’T ABOUT OTHERS–IT’S ABOUT SELF! THANK YOU FOR BEING SO PETTY AND INCONSIDERATE OF OTHERS. THANK YOU FOR REMINDING US ALL TO DISREGARD ALL OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.

A final word to THE NEWS MEDIA, ENTREPRENEURS, AND HOARDERS:

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m trying to find out if the government still has any of those vacated ICBM silo bunkers for sale. Think I’ll isolate there until this stupidity goes away.

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

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

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(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.