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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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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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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Bible, Culture

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

 

I like progress. I like it when we improve and make things better. I like conservation. I like it when we conserve what is right and good and necessary.

I hate abusive political progressivism. It uses the word progress for the relativism people seem to love so much. It seeks change for the sake of change regardless of whether it’s helpful or not. It seeks change based on the emotional appetites of its possessors. It seeks to conserve the tired, worn out ways of The Dark Triad: machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy. It leads to oligarchy and suffering…oligarchy for the few, suffering for the many. I hate abusive political progressivism.

I hate abusive political conservatism. It uses the word conserve for the dogmatism people seem to love so much. It seeks maintenance for the sake of maintenance regardless of whether it’s helpful or not. It seeks maintenance based on the emotional appetites of its possessors. It seeks to progress the tired, worn out ways of The Other Dark Triad: legalism, nepotism, and sociopathy. It too leads to oligarchy and suffering…again, the former for the few, the latter for the many. I hate abusive political conservatism.

Both abusive political progressivism and abusive political conservatism are on full display these days. They both use and abuse privilege…especially the privilege of truth. This is why great documents like The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution get bandied about by both groups. They become documents of first rejoinder…not for truth and clarification, but for clout, agitation, and propaganda.

I hate both abusive political progressivism and abusive political conservatism…and apparently they both hate me and you. They both fail. There is hope in neither, but there’s hope in Jesus.

Jesus loves me and he loves you.

He also loves progress. He loves it when it advances the purpose of his Father’s love and truth. He also loves conservation. He loves it when it too advances the purpose of his Father’s love and truth. In fact, he abides in his Father’s truth and he invites his followers to do likewise. His joy from progress and and his joy from conservation are not political. They are personal. What he said and did as well as what he says and does are ever the same. He was, he is, he ever shall be immutable. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He cannot be changed, swayed, or bandied about. He loves life and eternal life. He offers both. Jesus loves me. He loves you too.

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Adversity, Bible, Life's Moments

Awake…Again…’Cus the Lord Knows Me Well.

3:00am, Ricki, do you know where you are? How far have we traveled together? Seriously, oh man, the challenges we’ve stared down, climbed over, worked through, or even ignored…remember? Do you recall that time, really it was a season or should I say siege, during which you just kept wagging your head back and forth muttering “No, no, no, no?” Yeah, that’s the one. And…yup, that one too. Well, yes, that also. Now do you know where you are? Where you always are? Umhmm, you got it.

Remember when I said, “I will never leave you or forsake you?”

Right. That’s how I said it in the later Letter to the Hebrews. But do you remember how I said it first?

Yup, there you go. Moses was finishing. Joshua was getting started. Your brothers and sisters long ago needed encouragement as the time for entering the Promised Land was upon them. So, what did I have Moses say? Exactly, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) That was a long time ago…about 3400 years! And then again, about 2000 years ago, my people needed that encouragement , so I reminded them again. (Hebrews 13:5)

So, “Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

Now do you remember where you are? Yes, yes, yes, you are with me. We got this.

Thank you, Jesus. O Lord, thank you.

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Culture

Border Crises Abound and The Children Suffer.

The border crises continue! Will they never end? Once again, please do not think I’m engaging the political gamesmanship regarding illegal immigration. Rather I’m begging and praying for the rescue of children.

Please, please read the USA Today article at the following link for the latest update on the long standing border crossing crisis regarding littles.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/nation-now/2018/05/25/immigration-children-separated-families-lost-column/643793002/

Spanning two administrations, government bureaucracies have failed hundreds upon hundreds of innocent border crossing children… miserably. I’m not speaking of dreamers or 19 year olds currently attempting to cross, but little tykes nestled in Mama’s arms or held by her hands. They are innocent. They are held in camps. They are often taken and separated from their family. Whatever any others motives may be, theirs are innocent. They just want their Moms, Dads, and peace. For the sake of the children, we should replace the broken cisterns of failed government intervention with a coalition of NPOs like Samaritan’s Purse and Sisters of Mercy. This long standing siege, through which thousands of children have been failed by our broken bureaucrats, will not end until “we the people” quietly, humbly, come together and stop allowing the two sided government to take turns being egotistical, self-absorbed, and wreckless. We need leaders who lean right who are other-centered enough to say “The right is not always correct,” and leaders who lean left who are other-centered enough to say “The left is not always correct.” We just can’t take much more of today’s left vs right warfare. The cost is too high. Neither do we need old-fashioned political compromise.We need leaders who embrace contrition. We need a 1000 Mother Teresa’s before we ever need another Barak Obama or Donald Trump, another Rachel Maddow or Sean Hannity, or even another Stephen Colbert or Dennis Miller. For the sake of the children we need revival.

P.S. Also, please see… https://rickileebrooks.com/2014/07/14/permission-to-help-children-in-need/

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Bible, Culture, Life's Moments

Memorial Day Thoughts…

Grandpa McGrath’s leggings: WW1

I am thankful I come from a long line of veterans. Some fortunate enough, like me, to never see combat. Others, not so fortunate. I am also thankful I have never had to suffer the ultimate loss of any of those who served in combat. However, for some, to whom I owe everything, the losses of those they fought with are staggering. From my Grandpa Micky on my Mom’s side in WW1, to my Dad and Father-in-law and my wife’s step-father, and uncles in WW2, to my brother-in-law and my cousins in Viet Nam, and my nephew in this long war against terrorism, the numbers are hard to even imagine. Dad and Earl stormed the beaches in WW2…Dad in the Pacific, Earl on D-Day. Both made it from basic training to the beaches, through multiple large battles, to mop-up patrols, and finally home. They literally lost 1000’s of their brothers…all around and very near them on their full assaults, behind their covers, in their fox-holes, and further to the rear and both flanks, but never their fronts…because both served with squads on point. Dad and Earl and Lee separated from service upon their returns home. Dad was recalled for Korea. He fought again. He was recalled for the Berlin Crisis. Thankfully resolution occurred before any fighting started. He was then called again. So he took up his weapon and his aid bag and fought and bandaged and splinted and removed dog-tags yet again in Viet Nam. His service spanned 35 years with 22 on active duty and 5 (possibly 6…we’re not sure) in combat. Through it all he grieved most the condition of his little brother who returned from the Korean War with what we now call PTSD. His little brother never really recovered. Family breakdown and alcohol became his partners until the alcohol consumed him and brought death far too soon. So, actually, I was wrong earlier when I said, “I am also thankful I have never had to suffer the ultimate loss of any of those who served in combat” for surely Uncle Jim’s death was the last fatality due to WW2 to strike so close to Dad’s heart.

So to those in my family who fight no more, to those still with me, to those now on active duty, call me to attention because I owe you my salute, my respect, my love, my freedom, indeed my life. To my dear Brat Family: the same salute, respect, and love do I extend to you and yours. Your Dads and your Moms, who served just as faithfully as their husbands, are just like mine. They are heroes, legends…ordinary people who rose to extraordinary heights. All my love.

Father, thank you for them all. Please honor them. For those gone by, attend them as no human hands ever could. For those still with us, encourage them, keep then, protect them, prosper them.

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