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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Adversity, Bible

Big Tom

This coming Saturday my nephews, our family, our friends, and I celebrate the life of my Brother Tom. Our loss on March 26th was heavens gain. A few days before he left, I was reminded of something I learned from him…

“As I sit here at Tom’s bedside watching him sleep comfortably, I’m reminded of a family reunion on our Mom’s side. All the aunts and uncles were there except Aunt Peggie (we were all reunited with her many many years later). The gathering was held at Grandma Alpha’s and her latest husband Emory. They had a small farm somewhere in the outback of Idaho. Among the many incredible memories is one of both love and pain. While it never needed any help remaining seered in my memory, our Uncle Chuck kept it alive for everyone else as he would regale us with it absolutely everytime we had the pleasure of visiting either by phone or in person.

All the dad’s and boys were camped out one night in a big tent (in fact, I think it was actually an old white parachute, however I’m reaching the downward years of memory so I’m more than willing to be corrected on this little tid-bit of the story). Of course, there were all the usual suspects in that testosterone fueled environment…boys, teen males, and men on vacation. So there’s no need telling what it sounded and looked like…mayhem was afoot should suffice as a descriptive picture.

However, the hour finally approached when the dads finally obeyed the hollers from the moms in the house, “Paul, Chuck, Ed, John, get those boys settled down. It’s time for some sleep!” It took awhile, but sure enough the grunts, shouts, belches, woops, yee-haws, and laughs began to subside. I, on the other hand, was in rare form. Big Brother, Tom, joined Dad and the uncles in giving me increasing demands to pipe down. Nothing doing.

Through out the years Uncle Chuck held us all spellbound over and over with his telling of the tall tale that grew a little taller with each telling. It always concluded with Chuck’s final line and his acting out the scene…

“Then Tom reached the end of his rope and said, ‘Rick, if I told you once, I told you a thousand times…wham!!!!'”…as he acted out Tom’s blood producing punch to my nose.

Now as fond memories go this should rate rather low on the Human Fondness Scale, but oh nay nay. It’s one of my greatest childhood memories. Here’s why…it has come to represent for me the balanced dance of two unlikely partners…pain and love. Tom meant well. He loved me. Still does. I knew it then. I know it even better now. He knew I was well on my way to Dad’s end game. Much more shenanigans on my part were bound to arouse the flames of the old sarge. It was time for me to invite sleep into my disposition. Sure, there would be some crying as Tom carried me into the house to assist Mom in cleaning up my bloody nose, but there would also be some sweet brotherly reconciliation as he brought me back to the overnight camp out. Pain and love…like the Lord offers…the same Lord we read of in the Bible: “Who the Lord loves he also disciplines.” Hebrews 12:6

And now, now my brother’s love continues to instruct through the pain. He sleeps and I admire him all the more as I reflect upon his life time of overwhelming patience and compassion. He has offered them to everyone he has ever known…and I love him for it no matter the agony I feel now nor the grief which is to come.

Sleep well, Tom. Please wake up again. I have more to learn.”

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