Dear Lord, What Did I NOT Do? Panic Mode!

it’s crazier to be convinced–much less think–that we human beings are capable of fixing all that’s wrong in our culture.

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Image from imbd.com

It was Saturday, somewhere around 3:30 p.m.; during the Alabama-Florida football game. Bama (Roll Tide!) started out real good. At the end of the first quarter THE Crimson Tide was ahead 21 to 3. Then Florida started a comeback, and it looked like Alabama was stumbling hard. And I began thinking, “What did I miss in my pregame rituals? Did I wear a Bama shirt on Friday? Yes! Did I put on a Bama shirt Saturday morning? Yes! Did I have on my gameday underwear? Yes! Did I follow my pregame menu? Yes! Did I have on my Gameday Shirt? Yes! Did I have the correct snacks and beverage? Yes! Did I let down my ponytail? Yes, Yes, and Yes! So what did I forget??? It must be my fault that Bama is slipping!” This may sound crazy to some, but do you remember this Budweiser commercial?

Somehow, I was convinced that Bama wasn’t performing at its best because of me–and something I didn’t do right! Crazy to think that the outcome of an epic contest between two teams somehow depended on me and what I did, or didn’t do! And it’s crazier to be convinced–much less think–that we human beings are capable of fixing all that’s wrong in our culture. Yet this fatuous, frivolous, and futile half-baked conviction is driving so many today. And it’s driving us off that proverbial cliff.

Like a herd of lemmings, we continue to run even harder, only to fall of that cliff. You see, us hard-headed, pea-brained vacuous human beings–the only control we have in this vertiginous world is our will and our choices. Oh, these is one other thing we can control and fix: Our Reactions to what happens. No one but YOU has control over these three maxims. But the problems in our world? It matters not how many titles are after your name; it matters not what you think about yourself or another; and it certainly matters not how many initials you have after your name. It’s all BS when it comes to resolving our current crises.

So, am I suggesting that we throw up our hands in surrender to despair? Heaven’s to Betsy, NO! To relinquish and renounce hope is definitely NOT the ticket to a better world. Back to my Crimson Tide. They did win the game–but not because of my Gameday Rituals. Coaches coached to the best of their abilities. Players played hard and proved themselves at those critical junctures. I had nothing to do with the win–but I did enjoy it!

So what do we do? What CAN we DO? The remedy to this enervation? It’s not to be found in more sedation. It’s not found in the red or blue pill. While the Bible student may desire to blame Adam and Eve for this discombobulation, the castigation lies closer to home. We messed it up–and though we can fix some of our messes–this one lies outside our abilities and way beyond our capabilities. But it is not, I say NOT beyond God.

It’s NOT above His abilities. It’s NOT beyond His capabilities. And it’s NOT on the far side of His willingness. Oops, my ESPN kicked in again. One of you were just thinking: “Well, if God is able, capable, and willing–why hasn’t He done something?” And it’s a valid question that is worthy of a truthful answer, not some vapidity. He’s waiting! “Waiting for what???????” You and I.

That’s right. He’s waiting for our unconditional and absolute surrender. One day a young man who could easily be called a “religious man” came to Jesus seeking unending life. Jesus reminded this young man of how God said we are to live. And this religious young man saw those “rules” as a formula, not a lifestyle. He admitted to Jesus something was still missing, and dared to ask what was missing in his life. And Jesus told him: “Get rid of all your possessions, give the money to the poor, it will produce eternal wealth, and then follow me.”

Jesus wasn’t speaking against this religious young man’s wealth–Jesus was speaking into his surrender. We see in Matthew chapter 19 verse 22 the response of this religious young man: “But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” I love how The Message rendered the text: “That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.”

He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go. Do you get the point Jesus is making? If we want to see real change in the culture, it begins with absolute and unconditional surrender to Jesus. Then, as Jesus told the disciples: “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Quit looking for the formula to cure these many ills. And start surrendering to Jesus and God will do the impossible–Beginning With Us! I leave you with a song:

Trying To Make Sense Of It Doesn’t Make Any Sense

from Leslie Weatherhead’s book The Will Of God

“I’m just trying to make sense of it all.” When we see, hear, think or read about something that defies human logic–the brain wants to kick in and wants to do something, do anything, that will make sense of it to us–so that it becomes more copacetic and saporific for us. After all, that’s the way life should be, right? And that’s how the fight started!

For example, take the above quote from Leslie Weatherhead’s book The Will of God. I don’t know what was going on in his gray matter when he wrote this; and I don’t want to know if there’s more swill like this in there. My hunch is that Weatherhead was trying to make sense of why Jesus was killed. I mean, who in their right mind would leave the perfect eternity and step into time with the intention of dying on a cross? It just didn’t make sense to Weatherhead.

So, to make sense of it all, Weatherhead concludes that Jesus’s intention wasn’t to die, but to get all of us knuckleheads to follow Him. Somehow, that made sense to Weatherhead. Bless his heart! And I say this with all the Southern that lives within me. Those from the South know exactly what I mean. It didn’t make sense to him that The Creator would intentionally (using Weatherhead’s terminology) choose to die for who He created. I’ll say it again with emphasis: Bless his pea-pickin’ heart!

I’m not picking on Weatherhead and his pea-sized brain alone–but the sophism and absurdity that somehow we human beings are qualified and capable of making sense of. . . well . . . anything and everything. Here’s another example: The government’s responsibility is to take care of our needs and wants from cradle to grave. Making sense of this is like trying to nail a poached egg to a tree. Or how about all those other ludicrous, ill-advised, and doltish things people believe, say, or do? How do you make sense of things that just don’t make sense?

Try this on for size:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek His will in all you do,
    and He will show you which path to take.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

Here Solomon doesn’t say God will help us make sense of everything. But he does say that God will guide us to the right path. I don’t know about you, but this here wisdom of Solomon–It just makes sense to trust God! Especially when nothing else makes sense!

What Happened?

somehow people, not businesses and manufacturers, must be held responsible for their thinking!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

What The What?

Dysphoria–it’s a word frequently used in our culture–especially in the realm of gender identity. And it is being especially applied to children and adolescences. There was a time when Genesis 1 verse 27 was sufficient: “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” This was the rule–with the exception of chromosomal abnormalities. Simple, look below the waist–and there’s your gender, period!

But with the inflation and over evaluating of the most unreliable of human sensations–that of ‘feelings’–we now have multiple choices. Gee, whiz! How could God get this so wrong! The term “gender dysphoria” which Child Mind Institute defines is this:

Gender dysphoria was created as a distinct disorder to clarify that being transgender, or identifying as a gender different from the one of your birth, is not in itself a psychiatric disorder. The new disorder was meant to remove the stigma from being transgender, and to shift the concern of mental health professionals to assisting those for whom the experience of being transgender has resulted in significant distress and impaired functioning.

https://childmind.org/guide/guide-to-gender-dysphoria/

Recently in Tuscaloosa, Alabama a father was interviewed about this very issue. He was affirming that his son, now his daughter, has every right to make such a life-changing decision and encouraged other parents who have dysphoric children to enable their children to follow his example. But what IF–the parents said to that child, “Look, we feel like you are more of a daughter than a son. And we want to help you, make the necessary decisions for you to become our daughter. After all, that is how we feel about you.”

Does this really make sense to you? To anyone? Some would reply, “It’s not up to you and how you feel. You have neither the intellect or wherewithal to make such a decision!” But what if their feelings are very real? Shouldn’t they have this right based on their feelings? When one insists that it is legitimate to travel on the road of feelings, this is where that road will eventually AND inevitably lead us.

The real dysphoria of out is not about gender identity–the dysphoria is about the Truth–to be exact–the source of Truth. Do you know what the word dysphoria means? It’s not psychobabble invented by psychiatrists. It means: melancholy, restlessness, despondency. As long as one lives outside The Truth of God’s Design for life–dysphoria is where we will live, and where we will die.

TO INSANITY AND BEYOND! (The U.M.C.)

As an adult, I absolutely loved the movie Toy Story. And some will want to flog me with a wet noodle for saying this–but Buzz Lightyear is my favorite character. Even though that was nearly 25 years ago, I still love to watch that movie. Now I am seeing why I am drawn to Buzz Lightyear. It was his catchphrase: To Infinity And Beyond! But seriously, how can one go beyond infinity since infinity has no end?

And for the last few weeks, I have taken his catchphrase and replaced one word–and it is a word that describes my beloved United Methodist Church; and thus the title of today’s edition: To Insanity And Beyond! How does one go beyond insane? Clinicians in the world of behavioral science have pretty much agreed upon their definition of “Insanity”! But there is a better definition that is easily understood and on which there can be no disagreement. Well. . .unless you are insane. OK, here it is:

Insanity is doing the same things over and over and over–and expecting different results.

I am hearing, and I’m being told by my fellow United Methodists, that we are at a critical crossroads in our Tribe. I laugh to myself when I hear the word “crossroads”. The United Methodist church is at a crossroads, and the Democrats and Republicans want to be nice to each other. HAH! This may hurt the feelings of some of my fellow United Methodists, but. . .oh well! Toughen up, buttercup.

To say we are at a crossroads in the United Methodist Church declares that we have four options: go straight, turn right, turn left, or go back the way we came. This has been the situation going on for 5 decades, and the United Methodist Church continues to be in a serious state of decline every year. And what should have been decided this year has been postponed until 2021–the affect of COVID-19.

A group in my own Conference has started a movement called Stay UMC (click here for their website). Centrists and Progressive sincerely believe that we can stay UMC and maintain a diverse view of the authority and reliability of the Bible. Friends, this has been attempted now through 5 decades and we continue to be in a state of decline. It is insane to continue this way.

The image of where the United Methodist Church is at is not a crossroads, but we are at the T-Intersection!

At a T-Intersection you can’t go straight. The road has ended. Now you must choose a different direction. And because it will be a different direction, it means that we will no longer together be United Methodists. Truth is, it’s insane to think over the past 5 decades that we have even been in the same area code of United. We are fragmented and broken and the time has come for a kind and civil farewell to each other.

Make your choice because the road that the United Methodist Church has been traveling has come to a T-Intersection. It is insane to think that doing what we’ve been doing is going to produce a different outcome. If you believe that, then I refer you to my statement after paragraph 2. My fellow United Methodists, this madness must stop! I join the growing crowd who is giving up this game of Kicking The Can down the road. I know that this moment is not a Crossroads moment. Make a choice. Either we can trust The Bible or we can’t trust The Bible. Really, one cannot go beyond insanity.

What If All You Know Is All You Know? Tuesday Thoughts 28 January 2020

How you think about what you think you know will either ground you for life–or set you on the greatest of all adventures.

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I know I’m a little late today. . .OK, a whole lot late. But it’s still Tuesday and I do have some thoughts. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about: What If All You Know Is All You Know? No, I’m not venturing into the dark side of intellectual pursuit, otherwise known as Philosophy. I’m serious about this. This may appear to some as an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum. Hang tight! How you think about what you think you know will either ground you for life–or set you on the greatest of all adventures.

There are two ways of thinking; others may disagree with me but it’s OK for them to be wrong. There is Circular Thinking and there is what I would call Seeking Wisdom Thinking. Educators, psychologists, and most of all philosophers, would tell us there’s more than 2 ways of thinking. They probably could come up with some other ways of thinking but ultimately they are but expressions of one of these patterns.

People who think in Circular Patterns are driven by a set of facts and values that have already been established for them. They take what they see as factual and reliable to think, form opinions and plan their life by what they know. I call it a Circular Pattern because everything they know is inside that circle. If an idea, belief or opinion comes at them outside that circle, it’s immediately rejected. For Circular Pattern Thinkers are going in circles with their lives and wonder why they are’t getting anywhere.

They limit themselves to a limited source of knowledge. All they know is all they know; and they never look beyond themselves. Thus, their life and dreams are limited. The problem with Circular Patterns is that there is not enough information–nor will there ever be enough information to make anyone more than just ORDINARY.

The other pattern is the Seeking Wisdom Pattern. People here are not confined to set sources of knowledge. These are the No-Limit kind of thinkers. No, they are not those who “think outside the box”. We have tons of people outside the box who are outside the box, but still ordinary. Wisdom Seekers will never be content with average. No, they want to soar and excel in life. They know that Wisdom comes from beyond what someone knows. Wisdom that lasts and causes us to soar in life has one source–and that is God.

Here’s the thing about Wisdom. It is not limited to what we think. Truth is, it often contradicts what we think. Sometimes it does not make logical sense and contradicts the world view. And it’s this world view that has caused much of the mess we are in. Knowledge is found in books and people’s stories and comes from a very limited perspective. Wisdom only comes out of Eternity, out of the heart and mind of God.

Remember what James wrote in James 1:5–“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” Average comes out of knowledge. But greatness–that, my friends, only comes out of Wisdom.

And here’s my conclusion–If All You Know Is What You Know, You Don’t Know Enough–And You’re Operating Without Wisdom.

One more word about Wisdom–this one from this guy named Solomon:

Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you.
    Love her, and she will guard you.
Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!
    And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.

Proverbs 4:6-7

Throw It Out There Thursday: SAYS WHO?

Boys and girls it’s that time again: THROW IT OUT THERE THURSDAY where nothing is sacrosanct and any idea, belief or opinion is subject to sarcasm, cynicism or evisceration. So, if you are the type that is easily offended or refuses to hear a view other than your own, you are about to the thrown into chaos; just a warning. This week I’m looking at a Common Duo, RIGHT AND FAIR!

Today I am eviscerating this idea that somehow life is supposed to be RIGHT AND FAIR. I may be called mean, calloused and uncaring for what I am about to say. To which I reply

If you have or have raised kids, especially teenagers, you’ve heard this, at least half of it: THAT’S NOT FAIR! Even then, the other half is clearly implied. We are in a culture obsessed with RIGHT AND FAIR! Oh, someone was just thinking, “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with RIGHT AND FAIR?” Guess what? Life isn’t RIGHT AND FAIR! It hasn’t been RIGHT AND FAIR since Eve took that bite and Adam colluded with her by his silence.

I could be the Energizer Bunny and go on and on, but I will get to the point and make this short and sweet. RIGHT AND FAIR, as it is viewed in this fallen world, is based on our highly regarded and valued opinions and perspective. RIGHT AND FAIR is determined by what we think and feel; especially what we feel. Like it or not; disagree and deny–truth is our feelings and perspectives are tainted by selfishness.

Sure, there are some things that are clearly RIGHT and some things are clearly FAIR! But life on this warped planet? That’s where we get into a lot of problems. Case in point: the bitter battle in my Tribe, the United Methodist Church. A group is now proposing that we Orthodox/Traditional folks should be able to leave the United Methodist Church with all assets, along with a cool $25 million, and pursue their own future by creating a new Tribe. Bear in mind, in case you haven’t followed this circus, that the Orthodox and Traditional views of the Bible and in particular, sexual ethics, is the view of the majority. It has been since 1972. But there are some, especially in the U.S. and Europe, who feel more enlightened and wiser; so they want to change it so that it reflects our enlightened understanding. Who said the Age of Enlightenment ended around 1818? It’s being revived.

And many of my acquaintances and friends have been ask me, “If we are the majority, why should we have to leave? If they don’t agree with us, THEY should leave! (you know what’s next!) IT’S NOT RIGHT OR FAIR THAT THE MAJORITY BE FORCED TO LEAVE!” I confess I felt that way AT FIRST. Well, I tried to teach my kids that for the most part, life is neither RIGHT NOR FAIR and we shouldn’t expect it to be that way.

The RIGHT AND FAIR card is being played when a group of people don’t get their way. And here is the crux of the matter. We assume the role of God when we think we should be able to determine what is RIGHT and what is FAIR. And when life is not RIGHT AND FAIR, we can choose to be bitter; which is what it seems like the majority is doing. OR, we can choose to move forward without bitterness or resentment.

Right now I’m thinking about the story of Joseph, the one found in Genesis. His brothers sold him into slavery (well, that snot-nosed kid probably deserved it) and once in slavery, he ended up in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. That’s certainly not RIGHT OR FAIR! But circumstances changed and he finds himself as second in command of a nation. One day his brothers (you know, the ones who sold him into slavery) come begging for food, only they don’t recognize that it’s their brother they are begging to for help. Joseph has the perfect moment now to set the record straight for them not being RIGHT AND FAIR to him. Revenge has set the table for Joseph.

Instead, Joseph does something different; and what he did I’ve had to repeat to myself on many occasions when life wasn’t RIGHT AND FAIR. “Brothers, what you did was wrong and evil (meaning: NOT RIGHT AND FAIR). But God used it for good!”

So, when life is neither RIGHT NOR FAIR, get over it. God can and will make it into something good. But you have to relinquish your desires to define what is RIGHT AND FAIR!