The Ol’ Trump Card

Calling it “Two Corinthians” happens often in the UK and in Scotland where I believe Donald Trump’s mother emigrated, though, this gaffe was likely due to his false faith. I say false faith and hope I am wrong, but you can tell a tree by its fruit.

Trump’s clear betrayal of biblical morals and teachings displays very clearly this man is a wolf– to anyone looking that is. His racism, xenophobia, chauvinism, and love for division show us he is a coconut tree claiming to be an apple tree. Jesus has called us to live wise like a snake and innocent as a dove, Jesus called us to love our neighbor as our self. None of us are perfect but our lives should personify the teaching of Scripture, I just don’t see it in the life of the Donald. If he owns a bible it is probably covered in dust, if he has the app it was probably downloaded the day he announced his candidacy, if he’s ever prayed it was likely during one of his divorces.

Oh, one last thing…Trump believes he is the solution to the problems in this country. He believes he can be the savior Americans are looking for, the savior of the church–sorry bub, that’s the role of Jesus! He quoted Scripture with no regard for its context, though many do this and it is equally horrifying; where is the outrage, where is the coverage? People want to talk about the “Two Corinthians” but forget about the rest. A problem is, many who follow this man don’t read their bibles either, many believe exactly as he does…our hope is in man and his solutions, America is the world’s greatest hope, and our liberty is found in safety and comfort.

When Paul wrote 2 Corinthians 3:17, the Liberty he reminds us of even still today is  one that frees us from slavery to sin and the guilt it brings, a freedom filled with the transforming power of the Gospel, freedom from condemnation. Jesus said we will be hated and persecuted because of Him…in His name we will endure hardship and we are to live as sojourners in this land. Donald Trump thinks he can fix that, he thinks he can save us from this, he believes he can bring an end to persecution and obstacles we face in the name of Christ and give us all the comfy and safe life we deserve. Someone should tell Jesus America has a new savior and he’s starred in his own reality show.

I mourn for our country and pray she wakes up…I served this nation proudly in the military but I serve my God, Father, Savior, Redeemer, with greater esteem. I serve Jesus Christ supremely. The Red, White, and Blue will fade, tatter, and at times be turned upside down but Christ died to give us more than finite comfort and escape from our trials. Jesus died to give us freedom from sin, He came to give us hope, and the Holy Spirit abides pointing us to Him; until America sees Christ and falls before him there will be many more Trumps, Sanders, and other wolves claiming to be our great hope.

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That’s Not How Any of This Works!

They’ve got it all wrong–as a matter of fact, we’ve got it all wrong too! In the Church we see many approaches to God, but most can be placed in one of two categories: 1. We have the High Church, those that worship with an emphasis on formality. You see it in their liturgy (order of services and the way people participate) and you see it in their ecclesiology (the role of the church and the people in it). 2. We also have the Low Church, where formality is thrown out and pretty much anything goes. Arguably many non-liturgical congregations are so legalistic when it comes to their services one could argue for their liturgical air, but that’s for another day.

Why do I say “they” and “we” have it all wrong? The finger pointing. The High Church thumbs their nose at the casual approach of the Low Church, while the High Church is criticized for their cold formal approach. Well, I believe there is room for the middle!

Let’s not approach God in rote manner or think of Him as so Holy and other worldly that we cannot know Him. However, we dare not approach Him as our homie or personal genie.

There is something to be said for the formality, after all, we are gathered together to worship our Creator. Still, there is room for a somewhat casual approach because we are worshipping our Father whom we have a personal relationship with. Liturgy can be helpful when it comes to memorization of important themes that make our theology. Catechism is just as beneficial for the Catholic as it is the Baptist! Far too many are ignorant to teachings of Scripture and this is one way to remedy this. Far too many will turn to the book of Hezekiah because of their biblical illiteracy and a little formality could help.

At the same time, I know many people that have let the liturgy and formality act as a barrier preventing them from experiencing God personally. They have let their leaders do the thinking and wrestling for them, they have allowed a church service and/or ritual to stand in as their faith.

There must be a place for the middle–a place where Jesus is our amazing Savior and Redeemer whom we adore, worship, and seek to know; while simultaneously realizing while He is beside us He is also above us, while He is knowable, He is yet unseen. There must be a place where we may approach God in formal and corporate procession and song, while also being able to speak to Him intimately and individually.

There is much more to say regarding this topic but for now…let this get you thinking. Let’s not point fingers, that’s not how this works…let’s learn from each other, let’s sharpen one another, let’s appreciate one another.

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You Don’t Have to Walk a Mile

I have talked with people who said, “You don’t know what it is like to hurt until you endure what I am enduring.” I have heard parents say, “You do not know what exhaustion is until you have children.” I’ve recently heard, now that I am a homeowner, I will learn what it means to be broke and busy. I have friends who would say, “Don’t tell me life is tough until you have worked fourteen hours on a flight deck in blistering heat, just to get off and realize there are water restrictions because of a JP-5 issue which means you can’t shower, and to top it off today is your kid’s birthday and you’re in the Middle East looking at getting home some time next year.” Okay, that was a long one, but seriously, you’ve heard them and maybe even made statements like these.

I’ll be honest, I’ve made statements like these. I’ve accused people of being wrong, mislead, ignorant, and/or naive simply because they hadn’t walked in my shoes or becuase I have experienced something before them. Have you?

I am bringing this up because too often we dismiss the struggles of others, we brush them off and this is not Cristlike behavior. We are all different people with varying personalities, backgrounds, and experiences. Just because I have experienced something does not mean you cannot impart further wisdom in reference to that experience. Just because you are exhausted due to such and such, it does not negate the true exhaustion of another. Just because certain hurdles of life were presented to you, the fact that other people face obstacles must not escape you!

“You don’t know depression until you lose someone you love.” What about those that live life with diagnosed depression?
“You don’t know what difficult is until you serve in the military.” What about those that have fought through abuse and then addiction?
“You don’t know__until you__”
It’s time to stop thinking in terms that put self at the center and your experience as supreme.

I haven’t had the worst life but I know what hardship is. I don’t have kids but I know what it is to be exhausted. I have never had to worship God in secret but I know what persecution is. I haven’t lost the person I love most, but I know what pain is.

If you want to grow it begins with taking the focus off yourself.

If you want your relationships to grow, it begins with letting go of your way and realizing the experiences and feelings of the person you are looking at are real. When we disregard what a person feels, when we    disregard what a person has experienced, we are telling them we are better than they are–we are saying their life, experience, worth, and feelings are not as significant as our own. Some Fruits of the Spirit are gentleness, kindness,  goodness, self-control, and love. We must apply those to situations like these.

Next time someone is venting, complaining, unloading, or just plain talking, do not nullify their statements by claiming yours are supreme; listen to them, hear them, and remember… iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).

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Excuses, Excuses

Some people expect a few sessions of counseling to change their world, even though it took years to get where they are. Some people get frustrated with counseling because they don’t see any growth, yet, all the counselor can do is give the tools; it’s up to the people to use them.

I see people blaming counselors for lack of growth and I hear people attempt to discredit counseling but it’s nothing more than a cop out. What good is medicine if you won’t take it? What good is a diagnosis if you ignore the doctor’s orders?

It comes down to people blaming counselors for their own indifference, laziness, pride, and stubborness.

By the way, same goes for a sermon, same goes for a bible study, same goes for church…

 

 

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Too many Americans, not enough Christians

Often, the same people who shout about the sanctity of marriage and life are the same taking a stance against immigration, and now these refugees. Either you want a government and leadership who value God’s revelation and principles given in scripture or you do not.

This is not an easy situation, there is no simple three step solution, and potentially people could get hurt. Still, if you’re a Christian start thinking like one! Christ did not call us to live in fear and He has not called us to live the simple, safe life…we are commanded to love God and others at the expense of ourselves.

If you are not a Christian and I offended you, I don’t expect you to understand. If you are a Christian and I offended you–I’m glad.

We are not called to the allegiance of our parties, we are not expected to bleed red, white, and blue–we are expected to be salt and light.

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Death’s Sting

“God needed them more.”
“They’re an angel now.”
“It’s okay.”
“They’re up there smiling down on us.”
Any of these sound familiar? You could probably add a few to this list.

My cousin left this world recently, he stopped breathing…

We aren’t the closest family, broken, shattered, distant, maybe dysfunctional. Yet, my cousin and I would talk occasionally, small talk and catch up. He and I were better about this than I am with most of my family.

Well, right now I’m sure my aunt, uncle, and cousins have heard the phrases above and more. They have heard them from people who care about them and want to make them feel better, people who love them. However, these words are often empty phrases, groundless assertions, and “go to” sayings in times like these.

In attempts to make people feel better, we are missing the point. People fall asleep, people die, physically. This is reality, this is the world we live in. A world affected, effected, and infected by sin. We see it all around us and death is ever the reminder, the great equalizer.

My cousin, Milt, is not an angel now, he is still human; a human experiencing the fullnes and glory of God as I type these words. He is in paradise. God does not need him more than his family does, it was just his time to go be with Jesus. As far as timing, who but God knows why now.

Is he “up there” smiling down on us? I’m not completely sure. I don’t know if a person can look down at this broken world and smile while they are in the glorious presence of our Creator. Yet, if anyone could smile while seeing this world full of pain and strife, it must be a person who has seen God and sees the thorns of the world from God’s perspective.

Is it okay? At this moment, I’m sure they don’t feel okay. I’m sure they hurt, and they are confused, frustrated, scared, maybe even angry. But okay? I think this is the worst one…it’s okay?

It’s not okay! This world is broken! Pain, difficulty, opposition, violence, addiction, selfishness, these things and countless more surround us.

It’s not okay, and that is why Jesus came. It’s not okay sin has punched holes in our cities, homes, and hearts. It’s not okay, that’s why Jesus died.

Death is a pain that comes in this broken world, but it is a pain that reminds us things are not okay.

The question is, what do we do with that pain? Glaze over it, attempt to fill the painful holes of life with pleasure, appetites, and anything else? Do we ignore it, attempt to say we aren’t bleeding out?! Or do we admit it…admit we are broken, we aren’t even close to perfect, we need a Savior; a Redeemer?

Jesus Christ came and lived perfectly because we can’t. Jesus died as the sacrifice we could never offer, He came and lived as a human to see and feel from our perspective–because it’s not okay. However, with Christ, in Christ, we have hope. A hope for something more, finding a life purposed for more than our brokeness. A life that isn’t characterized by the old but shines brightly with the new.

In Jesus Christ the pain of death still stabs our hearts, but in Him we also find relief. In Jesus, we find that life is not okay, the infection still resides in us and this world. At the same time, it is okay, because
1 Corinthians 15:55 reminds us death has lost its sting.

Death may sting now, it will continue to take people from this world tomorrow, but from an eternal perspective death is squashed–it has lost all power because of Christ. Death will come knocking, but for those who confess with their mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart God raised Him from the dead…no sting–just paradise.

For the believer, physical death merely brings an end to our brokeness and puts us in the presence of our Lord! The restoration we have started to experience in this world finds its completion as we stand in the presence of our Father, our Creator, our King, our Savior.

So, when death strikes, God doesn’t need them more, but hopefully through the experience of loss we realize we need God more…more than we act like, more than anything, more than we realize, more than the air we breathe.

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I Don’t Care About Your Pain?

Let me begin by making something clear: I do not watch any shows with the Kardashians and I don’t enjoy basketball either. According to what I’ve seen and heard, this show is yet another source of the disintegration we see in America.

With this said, I want to express my frustration with what I am seeing on social media. There are no good excuses for what led to the situation Lamar Odom is facing, poor choices often birth poor results.

Still, some have thrown out any compassion for this man. Some have said “He made the choice, now he has to deal with it” and I have even seen some say “How can you say he is fighting for his life when we have military men and women really fighting for their lives?” So, I ask have we become so blind? Are we this indifferent? Are we so quick to forget?

Let me remind you…
Isaiah 64:6 (ESV)  We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

You and I are broken like him, our works are filthy… and…

1John1:8 (NLT) If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.

Also…

Romans 3:23 (NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

You may sin different than this man, your sins may be less severe, they may be more heinous…no matter. God requires perfection to have eternal life…you aren’t perfect. You are a sinner, like Lamar Odom.

You are broken, you fall short of perfection, you choose sin over Christ everyday, you have made poor choices.

The Good News for me, you, Lamar Odom, and everyone else:

Romans 5:8 (ESV)…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God requires perfection, we’re not. GOD came in the flesh, lived perfectly, defeated sin, conquered death, and lives still. He did this for me, you, and everyone else!

His perfection is ours, it is placed over us, it is imputed, if we confess with our mouths Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9).

We’ve all fallen short, made mistakes, made poor choices, hurt others, sinned against God. Thankfully God hasn’t turned His back on us, He hasn’t abandoned us because “We made the choice” and He doesn’t count our battles as petty, simply because someone else is facing a something more callenging.

We are called to live lives of compassion, lives characterized by light and salt! We are called to love others as ourselves! It’s time..stop talking about it, stop playing games…we are The Church and it is time the world sees what that looks like!

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