Bible, Culture, identity

My Wrinkles In Time

Life is such a great teacher. Just this morning, during a simple conversation through which a few people reveled and celebrated the life of a babe who broke into this world under duress, one of those life lessons occurred to me.
 
The little one will enjoy her first birthday soon. We’ve watched slack-jawed as she and the Lord chip away at markers everyone feared might lie beyond reach. In a text, one person then said, “Is she already a year old…goodness where does the time go?” What a great question.
 
In a flash, I knew my answer…
 
I see the passage of time in my wrinkles. I peer intently into the mirror…
 
“Yup, that one and that one, uh-huh, those are year three. “
 
“Whew, that one, good night Irene, when did that show up? Oh right, that was year sixteen…please, Lord, don’t remind me about that one.”
 
“And that little one right next to the big one between my eyes? Yeah, I remember…I smiled so long the night she said yes to my proposal, it just decided to hang around forever.”
 
“And that one…and that one…and that one…and “Criminently, Trigger” that little batch next to my eyes, oh please…”
 
“And, hey wait a minute, that one’s new. Oh right, it popped up last week. I think I’ll call it my virus wrinkle.”
 
The time flows ever forward. It comes. It goes. And the lessons are wrinkles sketched in time. Warnings. Celebrations. Hopes. Dreams. Prayers. Relationships. The time wrinkles of life…for better or worse, in sickness or health…reminders of this: have we redeemed the time, have we made the most of every opportunity, have we seized each day, have we given life, or…well, I’ll leave the contrast up to you.
 
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16
 
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

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Bible, Culture

Standing

4/12/2020

The question isn’t should I hold a church service in the parking lot. The question is, “Can I preach the gospel?” Presently, I still can. Going forward, I ever shall…regardless of consequences.

While I lean in the direction of Ron Paul’s perspective on what’s presently going on in my country and around the world, the truth is I cannot be certain.* Why? Simply this: the left and right in both DC and state governments, along with academia and think-tanks, have stripped the public’s ability to distinguish between fiction and truth, propaganda and news, duplicity and honesty, dishonor and honor. Our world is flooded with words and images gushing from institutions once considered trustworthy. Who can really know with certainty whether or not their vomit is true when flip-flopping, social agenda relativism is practiced on both sides? Read some C.S. Lewis, or even George Orwell for that matter, (no, not their stories, their essays) and you will see that the hideous strength of propaganda is the art of making lies seem like truth and truth seem like lies. Does that remind you of someone? It should if you believe in evil.

So, what can we do? We can look to that which has been confirmed before the word-mongers seized the airwaves and popular press. We sang about it in Sunday School, we can still sing about it in our comings and goings…”I stand alone on the word of God, the B I B L E.” Right now, you may not be trusting it, but you should. Both its reliability and veracity are chart toppers of the highest order.

My decisions today and tomorrow cannot be small. They cannot be held captive to the “tyranny of the urgent.” They must be faithful to the “truth of the important.” Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” When he went to the cross, he was a man of his words. His disciples, when in the face of extreme danger and when commanded not to preach in his name, were also men of his word when they said, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Today, across the globe, folks will celebrate this Jesus and memorialize his resurrection. They will do so under many diverse conditions. Some freely. Some through bondage. Some in a new kind of DMZ…standing while culture around them sways back and forth betwixt freedom and bondage. If you and I stand with eyes fixed beyond earthly things to things eternal, then, like Paul the Apostle, we can say, “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them” (1 Corinthians 16-19).

So stand…because “God so loved the world he gave his one and only Son that whoever would believe in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

*Ron Paul. End the Shutdown: It’s Time for Resurrection! https://bit.ly/2UZUL7h

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Culture

The Psuedo-Statesmen Breaking My Heart

My heart breaks hearing members from both sides of the aisle making remarks about “losing the balance of powers between the three branches of our government.” In my life time this erosion has been steady and consistent. The Constitution has become nothing more than a club for the D.C. Mob to wield whenever they feel it’s helpful to their moment. And, once again, please do not read left OR right into my words. My observation regarding the State of the Nation leads me to quote Shakespeare’s Mercutio, “A plague o’ both your houses…” I’m a follower of Jesus first, but I’m also a citizen of a land made of both poison and promise. I get it. We’re a nation of imperfection. The hurt contained in the poison has been and still can be just as hurtful as that dispensed in any other nation. However, the hope contained in the promise is unparalleled. The mob is doing nothing to elevate the hope over the hurt. Perhaps they can not. It’s just not in them. Instead, the oligarchs leading the way in D.C. today need to do one thing…they need to cry out for forgiveness. And each and everyday we must hope for, work for, and pray for something so much better than what we are presently receiving from the mob.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bible

The Riches of The Poverty of Christmas

I hope and pray this is your greatest day ever and every tomorrow will be filled with the same.

I remember once as a child eating Army C-rations Dad had brought home. It happened that we also lived in a housing project called Salishan…not so far from Ft. Lewis, WA. It was for poor people…and Dad’s military pay qualified for poverty. The thing is though my brother and sisters and I never new a thing about being poor. In fact, moving into military quarters later seemed like we were Moving On Up to the West Side! So far as we knew, we were always living large! Mom and Dad knew how tight the budget was, but not us.

Christmas reminds me of this kind of poverty. Jesus humbled himself. He became poor, but I dare you to not see the riches in that transaction. It’s impossible. In the middle of his Judean poverty the riches of heaven showered our world. It was not entirely the same in our little house in the projects, but it was similar. Love conquered all. It was a party…a celebration. My oh my, a C-ration cracker tasted like manna…and when Dad let me drink water from that metal canteen I thought I was a mighty warrior, full of life and power…a five year old claiming victory for one and all!

Christmas…the greatest celebration of all…God chose to introduce the riches of heaven to the poverty of our lives!

God bless you one and all.
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Adversity, Bible, identity

No Longer Conform

A key feature of therapy today is helping folks advance beyond their poor coping skills by processing memories. Looking at the past can help them understand why they behave in certain ways in the present.

Christ followers have had this privilege since the resurrection. We know it as “do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). The Bible refers to the memories (habits, proclivities, tendencies, inclinations, predilections) of a believer’s past as “flesh.” Sometimes these patterns are of our own choosing and making. Sometimes they are the patterns developed because of the choices, examples, teaching, and actions of others upon us. Either way, they no longer mark “who we are” or “what we do.” They are but the hauntings of an identity we’ve let go. Our identity is now in Jesus…to be like him…both as a shield of compassion for others and a servant of character for Christ. In another passage we read:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3,4

Dredging up the past can be ugly and painful. Who wants to think about the parts of our past that hurt? Yet, it may be necessary to “observe” them for what they are…relics, shells, ghosts. They only have power if we choose to allow them room to lounge around our active thinking, or to lurk within hidden chambers of our minds, just waiting for another opportunity to act like they belong. They don’t. The above passage continues…

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

And the more we build our present on what’s really true about us (God’s truth) and dispense with those fleshy memories–those ugly lies–the more we attain a future in which looking backward will be from the victor’s podium rather than the victim’s perch. Then we might find ourselves calling from on high…

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable. I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. Psalm 178:1-4

Yes! We will tell others our story…our testimony. We’ll let them know that in that darkness their was a Savior.

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Adversity, Bible

The Valley of Pain and Shame

At our church we are praying and working intensely at becoming adept with our ministry for those who have experienced trauma. In this day and age how can we not do so? Please join us in prayer that the Lord would increase this territory not only for us, but for all of his Church.

If you wonder why, please consider reading this very personal and enlightening blog from Pastor Greg Olson…

http://jesusdoesntgetlost.com/the-valley-of-pain-and-shame/?unapproved=65&moderation-hash=120116d8309b1e9d5d10214748ebc66f#comment-65

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Bible

Abide

Learning to Abide

I love the word “abide.” It comes from the Greek word monē (monay). Twice it appears in John 14.

The first time is in John 14:2: “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” The English phrase “dwelling places” is the Greek word for abide.

The place Jesus wants us to abide forever is with him. Amazing!

The second time is in John 14:23: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him.” There it is again. This time in the form of “abode.”

The place God desires to abide is with us. Amazing!

Think about this for just a few moments or so. Sure God could snap his fingers and instantly change everything…automatically we humans would be disallowed from messing things up. We’d look to him perfectly…without reflection, without choice. Like automatons. However, that wouldn’t be love…neither from God or from us. So, while he doesn’t like it, he let’s us mess up…but all the while he’s wooing us back…calling…imploring…abide with me. Amazing!

 

 

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