Archive for August, 2015

Aug 31 2015

Better Living

Published by under Life

We know more than we act on. Our pastor likes to say “we are educated far beyond our obedience.” And yet some people in church still demand deeper teachings. In fact, they LEAVE churches for other churches in pursuit of deeper teaching. Why? Most of us – myself included – haven’t digested what we’ve already been fed. Take, for instance, something simple – the poor. We know we should assist the poor. Ask yourself: “What have I done to help the poor and powerless this year?”

Just months before his death, Martin Luther King spoke at a convention in Chicago…

We are called to play the Good Samaritans on life’s roadside. But that will only be an initial act. One day, the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be beaten and robbed as they make their journey through life. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

Do not be deceived by the structure of our society. For many of us, it runs smoothly but it is radically unjust. The divide between rich and poor is obscene. The divide between black and white is deep. And it is the creation of our fellow human beings – politicians and financiers, stockholders and judges. We have a system that needs significant reconstruction. This view isn’t anti-American or anti-capitalist or pro-socialist. It’s firstly and ONLY pro-human.

The world our generation now inherits suffers not from lack of biblical scholars but lack of biblical living. Our country’s forefathers – with their Protestant work ethic – imported black slaves to build our capitalism. Despite their furious devotion to deep biblical teaching they somehow justified the de-humanization of untold millions. For what? Money.

Biblical teaching is no guarantee of a life well-lived.

Jesus taught against the Old Testament experts of his day (the Pharisees) with harsh tones.

“They do not practice what they preach.” (Matthew 23:3)

He told them very plainly: “Be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.” (Luke 11:41)

The time has come, dear brothers and sisters. Not for deeper teaching but deeper living and deeper loving. We must act on what we know.

Church leaders, God will not reward us for the size of our budgets. It is the size of love in our hearts and the hearts of those we lead that please him. “Show me your faith without works,” James said.

Our people need to be led into doing good. Not learning about it. Doing it. Deeply. Meaningfully. Consistently. If we won’t be thoughtful in this, we can expect Jesus will one day say to us: “You [teachers] have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness.” (Matthew 23:23)

There is a Jericho Road that must be transformed. And we are the ones – in this time – to do it together.

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Aug 30 2015

Sacrifice and Accomplishment

Published by under Life

“He got shot. He was right next to me and he got shot. I watched his plane fall into the sea.”

So my grandpa told me about the fateful day his friend died at the end of World War II when his fighter squadron went out for a bomber escort.

I can’t comprehend the sacrifice of the soldiers who fought World War II face-to-face against other human beings.

They concerned themselves wholeheartedly with their role in grand and complicated plans that were laid out to accomplish noble purposes. Our entire country sacrificed.

Because of their collective will, we have lives free from the Nazis. We were saved from so many evils.

But what have we been saved TO? Technological advancement? “Adventure”? Selfies?

It seems so strange that a generation characterized by self-sacrifice cleared the way for a generation now characterized by self-ishness. How did this happen?

In part, too few in our generation have enemies to fight against. There are plenty of them out there. But we see that solutions to the “usual” suspects of war and conflict are elusive for us as individuals.

ISIS? How am _I_ going to defeat them?

Nuclear containment? How do _I_ play a role in accomplishing it?

Global warming? The financial markets?

These are massive issues we don’t have much control over.

But what about kids who struggle with reading?

What about the elderly in nursing homes who never have anyone visit them?

There are enemies out there alright. Illiteracy. Loneliness. Poverty. They’re right here in our world.

My grandpa flew Grumann Hellcats off of carriers in the Pacific. His squadron was VF-2. They were called the Rippers. He shot down 12 planes in the war – the Navy’s 19th most-credited WWII ace. He won two silver stars. He was 23 years old when he entered the service. Most of his squadron was under 30. In total, 28 men in VF-2 were aces (i.e. shot down five or more planes) – the most of any Naval squadron in WWII.

What can we say of our peer groups’ accomplishments today?

Low expectations plague us. We’ve too little a concept of sacrifice. Truly, we do. May God help us in this! And I know he will!

Want a change? A more meaningful life? Me too. To do it, you and I have to be like our grandfathers. We have to sign-up for something worth fighting against. Only now, we don’t have to fight AGAINST other human beings. We fight FOR them and WITH them.

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Aug 28 2015

Doing Good

Published by under Life,Love

All artists used to be starving. Some still are. And it used to be that thinkers made very little money. Now, ideas are the currency we exchange FOR money.

The bible tells us to seek wisdom and understanding like we would gold and silver and precious jewels. Somewhere along the way, we flipped the script and now use wisdom to OBTAIN riches. It’s the commercialization of ideas. Ironically (and inversely), it tends to cheapen them.

We consume ideas like a wood chipper – in through our eyes and ears and out of our minds.

Everyone needs to eat. That’s true. The move to a “knowledge economy” implies we’ll make our money from ideas. But what of an economy that’s more human?

Ideas have undergone a change under the pressures of commercialization, commodification, and quick consumption. And as rocks change with pressure, so do ideas – they get corrupted – a word which literally means “broken into pieces.”

“Grow your tribe so you can monetize them.” That’s an idea. And people readily pursue it. They then come up with ideas so they can sell people more ideas. Sometimes those ideas HELP others. That’s good.

But with our money mindset, it isn’t too hard to figure out why we have so many social problems in the United States.

The homeless? Who can make money from them? No one. They COST us money. So some feel compelled to yell at them: “GET A JOB! Be productive.” Productive how? Productive like a machine? That’s by and large how we value people today – for how closely they can mimic a machine in production.

Criminals? We make money from them while they sit in jails.

Older people? We make money from them while they sit in nursing homes.

Our economy has been organized around an idea that people aren’t really people. People are dollar signs. We act like whatever ills befall our society are unfortunate, but, in truth, they’re only that secondarily. They’re firstly opportunities to make cash. Lots of it.

We’ve yielded human hearts and souls to a new class of robber barons – people profiteering from the weak in our society. They’re paid handsomely to “sweep away” the messy people we don’t want to see.

We don’t have time to labor in understanding psychopathy or gerontology or criminology because we’re too busy laboring to make our living and build our career. Enough with careers! Unless careers lead us to be care-ers.

Oh man! How deeply I long in this moment that the words from an unlikely source – the rapper, Wale – would be true of us!

I took my heart away from money.
I ain’t interested in fame.

We have these problems. We can’t be satisfied with words. What are we gonna DO about it? Our minds need to DWELL on the disconnect we have with our lives, the lives of the weak in our society, and our prevailing thoughts about what makes a “good” life. We need to watch things and read things and talk of things regularly that attack our wrong thinking and compel us to seek DOING good, not just LIVING good or THINKING good.

We live in a broken world with broken ideas which are the result of a money mindset, not a love mindset. Jesus taught against this in Luke 6.

For criminals: “Love your enemies,” Jesus said. “Do good to those who hate you… pray for those who mistreat you.”

For the homeless: “Give to everyone who asks of you,” Jesus said.

For the elderly and everyone else: “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” Jesus said.

May we be known as The People Who Put Together the Weakened and not The People Who Sweep Away the Inconvenient.

Oh, LORD! Show us mercy and change our hearts and minds! Help us to see money for what it really is and let us spend all our days doing good and loving people.

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Aug 23 2015

24/7

Published by under Life

We fear the power of the surveillance state – a government that taps into everything we do online and in our daily lives. We need to remember we’re already watched 24/7.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
_Hebrews‬ ‭4:13‬

We’re all untrue to who we say we are. We do things in secret we shouldn’t. That’s ok. It’s very human. But if we were more presently conscious that we’re seen by God, maybe we’d live differently. As it is, we too often do evil and put satan’s ways on the throne. He’ll always lose… And when that happens, we lose…

Your prince’s crown
Cracks and falls down
Your castle – hollow and cold
You’ve wandered so far
From the person you are
Let go, brother, let go.

_Keane – The Frog Prince

Let every security camera and every online login remind us that God is watching. He sees. Nothing in all creation is hidden from his sight. Everything is laid bare before him. May we let go of all that is not from him. One day we’ll meet him face-to-face! May he know us by name and exclaim, “You’re the one who fought to honor me in all your ways!” Amen and amen!

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