Culture, Race, Prejudice, Porn

Castleruins

I recently asked a friend with extensive experience as a pastor,
author, university professor and traveler about the U.S., “What in
your view, are the top three or so issues you believe to be essential
for Christians to face up to in the churches?”

With little hesitation he replied “Multiculturalism, racism and porn”.

While I’ve not taken any Gallup (or any other) polls on this, these
three things ring very true to me also.

Please read on as I take what may seem like a very odd turn… we’ll
come back to the above statements at the end of this blog entry!

Various English translations put it various ways, but Proverbs 29.18
boils down to this:

Where there is no revelation

or

the people don’t accept God’s guidance

or

where there’s no prophetic vision

then and there the people cast off restraint, run wild, have few (if
any) boundaries

But

Blessed is the one who keeps (observes, does, lives out) God’s law (God’s Word)

and the one who obeys His Word finds joy, discovers true blessing and
genuine happiness

One of the key words in this text is “vision”, and indeed the biblical
Hebrew word seems best translated “vision”
and comes from a root word in the Hebrew meaning “to see, perceive,
look, behold, prophesy, provide”.

When we see as God desires us to see we aren’t merely looking at skin
color but we see people with God’s eyes:
all have sinned… but Oh what they might become if they knew and followed Him!

The fact is, they may well know Him and we don’t have a clue unless we
get closer and out of His love, communicate.

God’s love certainly isn’t lust. Porn elevates fantasy to idolatry and
lowers those we lust after to object-status. God has not called us to
that! We are not called to imagine, stare at nor yield to sexual
practice via an image. Sexuality expressed in a holy marriage involves
love and commitment rather than dis-attached lust.

We need the clarity of vision that God gives.

James 1.5 puts it like this: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should
ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it
will be given to him.”

Someone once taught me knowledge is the accumulation of information
while wisdom is the stuff we need in order to properly apply that
knowledge.

Christ-followers must truly learn how to -apply- “the mind of Christ”,
to take every thought captive to Him, to love God with our mind (as
well as heart, soul and strength), to love our neighbor (regardless of
race, ethnicity, culture or sub-culture). We need to THINK GOD’S
THOUGHTS… and the best way to get there is a careful, regular study
(not a speed-read) of The Bible which is the surest thing we’ve got
with regard to His thoughts.

Next, the term “prophetic” (the concept of a prophet prophesying)
deals at core with what God is saying. The most certain way to know if
a person is actually bringing a word from God (as opposed to their own
thoughts) is whether it lines up with The Word of God (Bible). Next,
look at the spiritual fruit of their lives and character. Next, ask
both yourself and “the prophet” to whom they are truly accountable.
When you, I or any prophet (true or false) are not themselves
accountable to God, His Word, His Church (local church leadership in
particular) then to the extent they are -not- accountable neither are
you or I somehow automatically accountable to them and their words.

If, on the other hand, they are walking, talking and living out the
loving (though yes, sometimes difficult and indeed cross-bearing) Word
of God and sharing such, we had better pay attention and apply such
vision in our daily walk… or face the consequences.

God promises us (James 1.5 and elsewhere in scripture) wisdom if we
sincerely ask Him for it. But God the Holy Spirit has packed that Book
with it… and often the issue is not asking, not reading, not seeking
Him nor His wisdom, not in humility, applying it.

I have often asked forgiveness of God and at times, people- for
prejudging them before I knew them, knew how they got where it seemed
to me they were at spiritually and so forth.

While I personally love and celebrate multiculturalism and people of a
different race or ethnicity than I- and I suspect many reading my blog
do too- plenty of we Christians have severely blown it in this area!

I have long served in ministry with wonderful friends. In a recent
conversation with a bro. who happens to be African American, he
related a story about being at a Christian festival in another part of
the U.S. where another guy (professed Christian) got in both he and
his wife’s face basically demanding they get saved or get out of
there! They were so shocked that it took them a bit of time to realize
this guy was white and acting out racism.

For one thing, if they weren’t followers of Jesus his methodology of
communication wouldn’t have changed that!!

Further, it was more a matter of anger and his being upset they were
in a largely white festival that seemed to drive his “prophetic
utterance”. Clearly NOT the work of the Holy Spirit.

They couldn’t convince him they were truly Christians… and in fact
were both on the festival staff! They forgave him and went on.

I responded to my professor friend that issues of multiculturalism and
racism were of course, related. “People who are different are likely
evil or at very least, a threat”. Or so it seems to many people, yes,
even Christians.

How does one reflect the love of God to someone when we’re afraid or
angered at their very presence among us?

Now, a strange twist on the issue of pornography-

I have often found in one-on-one prayer with guys over many years,
that a person may well be racist and yet a great many times when they
confess habitual lust via the Internet, magazines or films, they
happen to mention they’re drawn to people of a different race and/or
culture than their own. Go figure!

On one hand they sin with prejudice, on the other, with a different,
base form of lustful immorality. Prejudice, like lust of the eyes,
lacks godly morality.

Certainly some of the devil’s business is to tempt us with a core
distrust, fear or basic repugnance at people who are “different”, “the
other”.

This is laced within our hearts and is certainly a oft-kept secret sin
among Christians.

Back to Proverbs- if God’s Word commands us to love our ENEMIES (who
are -clearly- enemies, not merely prejudged as such by us), how are we
to deal with people unlike us in race, ethnicity, culture and
subculture- plenty of whom are NOT our enemies in the first place?!!

So let’s also break down another key word:

“PREJUDICE”: This is a thirteenth century word with a central meaning
of “contempt”, “passing judgment BEFORE having enough information upon
which to judge truly and fairly”, and even denotes the possibility of
“injury, physical harm”. The Latin word is “prejudicium”. Prior
judgement.

I don’t know if you are like me, but throughout my lifetime I have
fallen into this sin nearly as much as lust of the eyes. Even beyond
someones race or culture or subculture (and I’ve sinned in each of
these areas also) we can simply look at someone and think we’re
“discerning” something about their spirit, their attitude, who they
truly are.

Sometimes we -may- be correct, or partly so. Sometimes you or I
actually function with a spiritual gift such as a word of knowledge,
word of wisdom or the gift of prophecy. We discern what’s up with a
person or group of people. BUT… often we are simply humans who have
no special insight into person X, Y or Z and yet we prejudge them
rather than pray, love, act towards them with kindness, ask questions
and get a sense of who they really are. True?

I suspect many a Christian small group and support group repents
(especially men) of sexual sin including porn. I’ve certainly blown it
in this area off and on, if not mags or film, on occasion with the
Internet or certainly in my mind. My imagination is such I don’t need
to actually go looking for porn. So I do share and repent of this with
my own accountability partners.

I wonder how often any of us confesses, seeks counsel and prayer about
prejudging “outsiders”? How often do we face up to the core sins of
fear or anger toward those “not like us”? Is this about love or
control, about loving or domination?

Consider God’s Word in Luke chapter 9:

49 John answered, ???Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your
name, and we forbade him, because he doesn???t follow with us.???
50 Jesus said to him, ???Don???t forbid him, for he who is not against us
is for us.???
51 It came to pass, when the days were near that he should be taken
up, he intently set his face to go to Jerusalem,
52 and sent messengers before his face. They went, and entered into a
village of the Samaritans, so as to prepare for him.
53 They didn???t receive him, because he was traveling with his face set
towards Jerusalem.
54 When his disciples, James and John, saw this, they said, ???Lord, do
you want us to command fire to come down from the sky, and destroy
them, just as Elijah did????
55 But he turned and rebuked them, ???You don???t know of what kind of
spirit you are.
56 For the Son of Man didn???t come to destroy people???s lives, but to save them.???

I think both the 9-11 attack by extreme Muslim fanatics and our own
recent political climate has brought many otherwise sane Christian
people to a level of fear, anger and suspicion to the extent some are
falling into a racist attitude, yes, even to the point of “casting off
restraint” due to our own lack of vision.

We just don’t see people with Jesus’ eyes. We see those unlike us as enemies.

It’s clear that the disciples had the same problem that we at times in
the churches have.

Remember that Jesus told them a story… about a “good” Samaritan?!! Hmmmm.

There is hope for the church, hope for the family of God. Therefore
there is hope for me, hope for you and hope for the world we will
influence!

There is nothing of faith, hope or love in scorn at multiculturalism,
racism or pornography. None.

Hope blooms when we soul-search, confess and repent and choose the way
of Jesus and the cross over our own comfortable kingdom, complete with
wall and moat.

It is the kingdom of God that will prevail, not yours or mine.

God help us to live and treat one another accordingly.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

The Embrace & Truth’s Face

John 8.31 and 32 are for me, some of the most potent, comforting yet
alarming verses in the Gospels. Why?

v 31- To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my
teaching, you are really my disciples.
v. 32- Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus is speaking to Jews who have accepted that He is indeed the
promised Messiah.

According to His judgment (and John who is writing this Gospel) they
are true believers.

(caps. are mine for emphasis) IF you hold to My teaching…

A phrase I heard a lot as a young man was “that’s a big ‘if'”,
meaning, “there are several issues involved in this matter… it’s not
as simple as you might think.”

Various English translations render this “If you…

hold to my teaching

remain faithful to my teachings

abide (live, remain, continue) in my word

live by my word

“THEN”

And I suppose I can rightly add “truly at such a point, over the long
haul, as time passes, as you mature by thinking, speaking, behavioral
application of what I (Jesus) have taught and lived as The example for
you… as you do this faithfully you are truly MY disciples”.

Then you are REALLY, TRULY -My- Disciples, or “you are INDEED my
disciples”, or “you shall be” or even “you shall become” or “you shall
prove to be my disciples”.

Disciple in biblical Greek means “a listener, a learner”. That is,
someone who not only hears, studies, pays attention but who actually
walks out, lives out what one has learned.

“My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow Me” rings in
my ears at this point!

But for me at least, the difficult part of these verses comes as Jesus
tells His disciples “And you shall know the truth and the truth will
set (or “make”) you free”.

It is during, as and after we not only accept what Christ says as true
and worthy of application but begin to apply His Words that freedom
(from the Spirit of Truth Himself) begins to take root, change our
lives, character, direction and ultimately brings freedom to our life
unlike any sort of “freedom” one could ever experience outside of
relationship to Jesus Christ.

Note, I don’t think any human fully understands nor perfectly
interprets the Bible, myself included. I also am certain none of us
LIVE it perfectly… it takes little time to figure that out with an
honest look into one’s own life, the lives of Christians around us and
by a hard study of church history (local and regarding the Church in
the world over the centuries).

We all only understand -in part- as it says in 1 Corinthians chapter
13… and so with flaws and hopefully a core humility we must admit
truth takes many a shape in our own perception of it.

Jesus calls Himself “the TRUTH”, refers to the Holy Spirit as “the
Spirit of truth”, constantly quotes Old Testament scripture as “truth”
and uses the phrase “truly, truly” over and over again in the four
Gospels.

In light of this, we must admit truth is not a myth, nor a lie, nor
irrelevant, nor only what you and/or I “perceive” truth to be. The
question is this: do you or I believe truth is what HE says it is…
and how does Jesus Himself seem to define truth?

Following this, are you or I willing to live accordingly regardless of
the pains involved -in humility, kindness, accepting and sharing the
grace of God (unmerited favor), actually loving God supremely and
others “as yourself” as Jesus commands us?

These, my friends, reveal truth as a gift that brings ultimate freedom
(exactly as Jesus is telling us here) or conversely, causes people to
become bitter, angry, even more self-centered, even driven away from
God and His people due to our own sinful choices. Either the truth
directs us or untruth informs our path.

REAL freedom cannot happen in any one’s life until and unless they are
willing to “love the truth” and so be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2.10)

The term “saved” might also be translated (from biblical Greek into
English) “delivered”.

I can tell you bluntly that my biggest problem, my greatest enemy and
need for deliverance is from myself!! Over four decades of following
Jesus hasn’t changed that key fact. It is still true. And yet there’s
hope. I’m nowhere near the dirtbag and selfish creep I was in past
years!

We cannot earn salvation, We cannot do enough good works to be
“acceptable” to God. We CAN study the truth, apply His Word to our
daily choices and find freedom. But it would be and is a lie and not a
full disclosure to say that this is not always the easiest road to
take.

Jesus said “Count the cost”, but it’s a rare Christian- be it pastor,
evangelist, Bible teacher or other speaker or writer who accents that
point all that often.

The reality is that we do nobody justice nor does the church’s
credibility leap off the charts (to the good) by hiding the fact Jesus
calls each and all to repent, take up -our- cross daily and actually
-follow- Him.

It’s a part of the truth we shy away from. It’s not easy to tell it
nor to hear it. It’s often harder still to apply such truth.

So I’d say it’s not only the truth that sets free but also the truth
that causes us to have to face our own self-made prison(s).

There is a certain sort of comfort in my personal cell block but Jesus
keeps standing at the door and knocking! Love does that.
Though not each and every moment.

Sometimes in His love He allows us to baste in our own rubbish until
we’re plain tired of the scent. Even -that- is a revelation of His
love and grace. He calls us to truth, not fable, to what HE says, not
what we’d always like to hear or think for ourselves.

I don’t need groupies who tell me what I want to hear either! But oh
how we sometimes choose to hang (yep… hang) with such peeps because
it’s a lot easier than growing up in God’s truth and grace.

In essence, God is god, not you nor I. That’s obvious, no?!! I mean,
really!! The height of arrogance is pretending to be God and running
that joke up against the truth Jesus was, is and reveals Himself as in
His Word, The Bible.

But oh how easy and in a sense, comforting to choose fiction over fact.

How easy to choose porn over the difficult road of celibacy or
climbing the mountain of repentance and hard work for change and
healing so that one -might- become a stable marriage partner.

How easy to talk of loving the poor while avoiding them but for an
occasional offering.

How foolish to avoid those who will encourage spiritual growth for
those who encourage you to waste your life in personal pleasure
schemes with zero responsibility to God and His people much less being
an authentic servant to those in deep need of God and His love.

How simple though unsafe and ridiculous- to manufacture “truth” in our
own image as opposed to all God says about Himself and us.

How easy to act as if life is just role-play until the curtains light
up and we and all the toys and false gods we’ve clung to end up a pile
of ash.

Vanity. Waste. Insanity- and this brought on by our refusal to face the truth.

Truth often comes as the kiss of God. At times it appears an arrow in
the heart. It does not always feel sweet, kind, like an embrace.

But it is indeed an embrace.

At times much like a parent wrapping her/his arms around the
hurt/raging/brat-or-whatever-else child we are, seeking to love and
comfort us when we simply don’t want such comfort. God the Holy Spirit
(Whom Jesus also refers to as The Comforter) has it right when Jesus
is quoted:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those
sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together,
as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not
willing.” (Matthew 23.37 & Luke 13.34)

In the end, Jesus IS the truth that sets us free. It’s not merely a
matter of perspective or faith. It’s a matter of surrender and the end
of “self IS God”.

This embrace alone brings eternal life. This truth trumps all others.
This relationship is essential… but Jesus Himself told us it would
cost us.

To be sure, it cost Him the most. Love is like that… it spends for
the beloved.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Mission USA- The Bridge

If someone was thirsty you’d likely give them something to drink.
Perhaps if they were hungry you’d also offer them a snack if not a
full meal, especially if you’d gotten to truly know them.

If it was raining out as it has been off and on in Chicago the past
couple of days, you may loan them a windbreaker or jacket. Maybe you’d
even give them one to keep.

If you knew them well enough and they were all of a sudden homeless
you -might- take them in, at least temporarily.

And if someone, especially in your family or a close friend got very
ill and ended up in hospital you’d likely visit them, at least once
and perhaps more.

If… only IF you knew and loved them well and they landed in jail or
were handed a prison term you might visit them. Perhaps.

Relationship and not mere theory, is the bottom line. Before anything
else. Relationship and community is certainly the best incubator and
prime launchpad for love I’ve ever known.

Through meetings and authentic, bridging relational ministry Mission
USA slices most of the corners off of “perhaps”. The message at The
Bridge is WE’RE HERE AND YOU’RE WELCOME… ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE COMING
OUT OF PRISON OR ON THE STREET AND A LIKELY CANDIDATE FOR JAIL OR
PRISON. YOU NEED HELP? GOD AND THIS GROUP ARE HERE TO BRING IT.

I’ve been blessed to share in ministry with their staff here in
Chicago for several years now and have been regularly encouraged by
their constant and fruitful outreach to those I call “the least of the
least of these” (see Matthew chapter 25 -prison is the last of six
things Jesus mentions regarding judgment and love).

Please read through what they do and how they do it here: http://missionusa.com/

The work of The Bridge is just that, bridging gaps by forging solid
relational links to Jesus, good people and services.

They would appreciate your prayers and more should you have heart to do more!

Thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Perceptions And… Errr… Perceptions

Forgive me if I’m re-telling this story… I can’t find reference to it
in my blog but perhaps I’ve published it before.

Walking across the street from work several years ago I carefully
avoided running into a dude also crossing near me in the exact
opposite direction.

As I looked up into his scowling dark eyes I couldn’t help but
notice long, greasy black hair and a “just GIVE me a reason to
come after you with an icepick” expression -nor could I help
noticing his black tee shirt with the statement in huge, white block
letters that read: “I HAVE no issues!”.

I nearly bit my tongue to the blood as I fought back laughing so
hard I’d have surely fallen down in the middle of the street otherwise.

All I’ll say is that he and I didn’t share the same perspective!

Somewhere between our needs and our individual (or even group)
perceived needs is the truth.

Reality is often a bit of a shock, and over my lifetime have come any
number of shocks to my own personal sense of need.

We NEED water, food, clothing, some sort of shelter (housing). We NEED
health care of some sort, both hygiene, preventative habits and medicine
and sometimes a lot more than that. Hospital comes to mind.

Most of us do not need a jail or prison term, but that comes up
sometimes and in some cases I suspect that also is a need- but not one
any of us thinks is a need unless to bolster job opportunities in our
local area.

Perception is a funny thing, even a moving target in that our personal
and even larger group perceptions change over time with any number of
issues affecting and shaping those changes.

Though I find it troubling, I often expect perceptions to (at least
for the moment) “run the show”, to rule over what otherwise might seem
obvious truths in terms of human logic, lessons from history or even
short-term “sense” not to mention long term repercussions.

To perceive in terms of core definition means to become aware, know,
or identify by means of one’s senses, to discern or understand.

The problem with this is that all human beings- individually and
collectively- often MISS-perceive.

One translation of the word “mistake” in James 1.2 is “stumble”.
“Indeed, we all make many mistakes.”

The humility and openness to such an obvious reality ought to bring us
to a spiritual maturity we are alas, often without -without which as
individuals and local communities, often ends in conflict.

Your perception of X equals Y. My perception of the very same X might
equal Z. Now what?

Psalm 133 is a reality too many Christ-followers rarely experience. To
walk in such unity CAN happen… but it costs each of us. One major
cost is our personal pet perceptions… or I might say “gripes”,

Here’s an example:

Jesus deemed all sinners worth dying for, but my own understanding, my
own interpretation of The Bible is in itself also a perception that
I’m well aware some other Christians do not share. They believe Jesus only
died for -some-, meaning that “not all will be saved”, not all who die
will be eternally in the presence of God and God’s redeemed people.

In fact, I agree with them in the sense that not all will follow Jesus
in this life in faith, therefore not all will be with Him in eternal
life. At the same time I am convinced (according to the same scripture
that those disagreeing with me believe to be the Word of God) Jesus
truly died “once for ALL” (my caps. for emphasis), not meaning that
all will be saved but that He still died for all people.

But you see, both “sides” of this question have not only the ability
to think, pray, study, research what the biblical Greek and Hebrew
scholars have to say about this doctrine and all the scriptures that
pertain to the issue… we are not all of the exact same mind on it.

We come from different schools of theological and doctrinal thought.
In the end, it’s not only about actual fact/truth and what God
Himself would call “knowledge” but also perception.

Discerning actual fact from personal perception is a huge matter and
core to ending conflict. It’s also an area all of us need to think and act
more on. It takes time, effort and humility. It costs. Sometimes it costs
a great deal more when we avoid these responsibilities.

So back to the beginning: are my perceived “needs” truly needs? Would
Jesus agree with me that X, Y or Z are NEEDS in my life?

This, I find, to often be the great leveler amongst my fellow believers.

Our perceptions must not be given more authority in our beliefs nor
choices than God’s Word on the given matter. But often, our
perceptions nearly rule our lives, lord it over other’s lives and have
often started horrific wars, maintained tyranny and for that matter
both split and started local churches and ministries due to human flaw
and error… due to perceptions being given more “clout” than Jesus’
Own words.

Hmmmm. What to do?

Brutal self-honesty, truly considering the views of those who oppose
-your- position on things… and a serious dose of humility and
admission of one’s own ability to mess things up due to our desire to
“get our way”.

Well, this is at least my perception 🙂

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

STILL the Best Quote Re. Artists I’ve Read

Every so often I must post this one. The brilliance of it struck me again
today so…

“Great artists have always been at the edge of growing awareness about
what was happening in any society. They have been not just
entertainers, but poets, painters, agitators, teachers and even
prophets. It seems their gift to us is to help us see vividly what is
taking place around us; to raise our awareness about social
conditions, about our natural surroundings, to call for a response to
human beauty and tragedy, to help us get inside the skin of others.
Perhaps the greatest moments for artists are when they move us towards
justice, mercy and compassion. Maybe then they are fulfilling their
real destiny as artists and human beings”.

-“Tell”, Australian Christian magazine, Vol. 16, No. 3, Sept.-Nov., 1987

No Props For Propaganda

Rat

I’m going to thread through several things in this blog, but please
stay with me. It’s personal, national and biblical.

Lord willing I’ll be 60 yrs. old next January. I’ve lived happily and
sometimes unhappily in and out of the struggle of poverty- both as a
child with my blood family -and largely by choice and calling for most
of my adult life.

Now, poverty is one thing if one has a sense of calling to poorer
folk… and it’s a relative term. I am rich compared to many of my
inner-city Chicago neighbors, that’s a fact.

I live in one room by choice. I don’t own a car, have never had life
insurance, don’t take a salary as such. My wife and I have needs met
(basic cost-of-living, room and board, etc.) as missionaries via the
local church. But I want to make this clear- it’s part of our calling
in service to truly poor and addicted and in some cases young,
searching people who are trying to figure out what to do with their
lives.

As a musician (since my 12th year) I began song writing at age 13. My
first song was titled “Don’t Lie to Me”. It was a song about love and
divorce, about words, empty promises that meant nothing, about
faithlessness and infidelity.

That’s a bit of background to what has prompted me to write this piece.

We could consider a word like “hype” or maybe “spin” -but I think
there’s a better word to define something that runs like a greased rat
among us.

One of the few things in life that truly disgusts me, that which loses
my respect almost automatically is: propaganda.

prop·a·gan·da
(prop-uh-gan-duh)

information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or
harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation; the deliberate
spreading of such information, rumors; the particular doctrines or
principles propagated by an organization or movement

My politics have slowly moved further left-of-center over time but the
fact is that I’m independent and have been for quite a number of
years.

I’m SOOOOOOOOOO sick of political propaganda- often a synonym for “lies”.

I’m tired of the trash-talk and refusal to say even one good thing
about “the opposition” and truly tired of the “win-at-all-costs”
nonsense that the U.S. political system seems to both run and feed on.

Money rules, not democracy. This stinks, it’s sick and it’s an
all-too-apparent fact.

I’m also plain amazed at the fallacy that the U.S. is God’s gift to
the rest of the earth in all it’s ways.

We have messed up plenty, our history is at least as rife with
blunders. greed and indeed, killing of innocent people for our own
business interests as England’s ever was -and I happen to love the
U.S. as well as England!

I grew up singing “This is -my- country”. I have never loved
everything about it nor has anyone reading this. Can we agree on that?

I love this country more than any other. Do you and I share that same heart?

And yet God’s Word is clear: “None is righteous, not even one”.

I own guns, shoot, hunt, am not a pacifist, support our military
personnel (not every deployment, not every war or “military
engagement”).

I disagree equally with abortion -and- the death penalty.

I find things to disgust me (from what I believe to be a solidly
scriptural viewpoint) in BOTH the right and left, both in terms of
morality (sex AND death, left AND right).

It’s easy to list what I agree and disagree with and frankly, I don’t
think in full view of Scripture either major political party lines up
more than about 70 percent (if that) with my own understanding of what
I’ll call a sane, consistent application of biblical Christian
principles.

But the vile, verbal spewing of raw, ignorant hatred, name-calling,
the out-of-context quoting of one’s opponent have been driving me
nuts.

All this and many more reasons are marginalizing more and more young
potential voters right out the door of engagement in ANY political
process. I’m growing weary of apologizing for “adults” whose taunting
rage and fear are sending their kids and grandkids ever farther away
from thinking a voting democracy is worth involving themselves with!

I’ve been a student of war from the time I was very young. Via books,
movies, documentaries, the Military Channel, conversations and etc., I
have always tried to understand WHY and HOW human beings treat other
human beings as they do in terms of the worst of our capacity to do
so.

From my own studies through the years I find myself muttering aloud
“Goebbels would have loved this”. It is as if political strategists
and superPACS (super-puke in my book and you can quote me on that)
studied his approach to publishing lies and simply applied it to the
current national and state elections.

That, my friends, is my own assessment of the sickness of one of the
most primary but rarely-discussed American cultural values: winning at
all costs… winning no matter how it affects “the least of these”
(read the words of Jesus in Matthew 25 for more on that).

Hear what Jesus says to ALL who were listening to Him (not only His
disciples) in the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 8:

v34 “He called the multitude to himself with his disciples, and said
to them, “Whoever wants to come after me, let him deny himself, and
take up his cross, and follow me.
v35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; and whoever will
lose his life for my sake and the sake of the Good News will save it.
v36 For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world, and
forfeit his life?
v37 For what will a man give in exchange for his life?
v38 For whoever will be ashamed of me and of my words in this
adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man also will be ashamed
of him, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy
angels.”

And what would Ayn Rand’s take on these words of Jesus be? Hmmm. I choose Jesus.

On the basis of these few words from Mark 8 alone, can anyone in their
right mind consider the United States a truly Christ-following nation?
The absurdity of such a conclusion isn’t worth debating.

I listened to Paul Harvey daily and would today if he were still alive
and broadcasting. Most early Saturday mornings I listen to the Farm
Report on radio. I grew up in the rural Midwest and could live and
serve happily in farm country again in a heartbeat if God called me
to.

But here’s another fact: most Americans are urban and/or suburban. The
culture wars are in my view, people camping out on “what USED to be”
vs. what is. What was AIN’T No More folks! Trust me, I don’t just feel
your pain, I feel it in the inner city. It’s just a slightly different
pain.

The facts are that rural meth labs have sprung up like field mice,
well, like inner-city roaches. More grass (the smoking variety) is
being grown private, state and national lands in the U.S. than -ever-,
it’s a cash-crop. I don’t think it’s a good idea… but my point is
there ain’t NO part of this land without moral sickness, addiction,
money-before-humanity schemes. It’s not merely urban vs. rural or
suburbs vs. inner-city though I’m sure some want to posit it like
that.

It’s time to face facts rather than merely swallowing propaganda from
folks telling me what they think I want to hear so I’ll vote for them.

Individuals and local groups of Christ-followers (not mere
church-building attendees) make the difference in folk’s lives.
Individuals and small groups who actively love/serve their neighbors
turn individuals and neighborhoods around.

No government’s policies hold the greatest sway, and as a Christian, I
believe and quote the Truth of God’s Word above the pundit’s when I
say the very gates of hell won’t prevail against Christ’s church.

Unbelievers and even some Christians will think me crazy but there it
is. According to Jesus, the devil, demons and hell cannot and will not
have that power. So how is it we think anyone else will?

Between fear-peddling and some actually believing they can somehow
turn back the clock to “the good old days” prior to 9-11, prior to the
Wall Street rip-offs, prior to our own corporations seeking ever-more
profits by moving overseas to do so we have gotten rather far from
loving God and our neighbor. That is, unless our neighbor happens to
agree with us.

God disagrees with you and I every day. Every single day. I think
people on both sides of the aisle need to repent.

Are unions often corrupt? Of course- if you believe the Bible and have
any association with human beings and study human history (in ANY
nation in ANY time frame) you’ll realize exactly what is written (in
The Book) is true: “NONE is righteous.”

But oh how we want things to remain in the peaceful (?? cold war…
the bomb… lack of media exposure of elected officials…
McCarthyism…??) 50’s and early 60’s when “all was well”. It wasn’t.
It isn’t now either, and no winning of office in any four or even
eight-year span is going to cure our sinful human nature, our desire
to WIN… to control, and now I speak as a follower of Jesus Christ…
of our desire to (nearly or actually) somehow force biblical
principles into the law of the land. Ain’t gonna happen. Too many
hands in too many pockets- and I’m not even talking about the
Democrats yet.

My own understanding of the Bible is that in the end times (I think
we’re very likely there…) many will fall away. I personally do not
believe there will be a truly massive in-coming to genuine faith and
surrender to Jesus that I have often heard spoken/prophesied about
over the years. I’ll be HAPPY if I’m wrong, truly! It’s simply that my
own reading of the Word moves me to think we’re not going to earthly
faith, hope and love, rather the bulk of the population is going the
other direction.

Do I still believe, speak, write, relationally interact with people by
trying to share and live out the Good News of Jesus? Absolutely. But I
have zero delusions of grandeur about my country or it’s political
purity and I have found very few willing to refuse to be
bought-and-sold on the basis of personal gain. Read that last sentence
again please.

Do I have hope? For individuals yes, not so much for entire nations.

There is coming a day when this world will be “rolled up like a
scroll” and no flag will exist.

The Father and the Risen Lamb who is the Lord Jesus Christ will put an
end to hirelings, gain-seeking and propaganda for the sake of gaining
or maintaining power.

I’ll close with a few blatant statements from Revelation and Hebrews:

Book of Revelation, Chapter 22

v14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the
right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the
gates.
v15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and
murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices
falsehood.”

Book of Hebrews, Chapter 13
v14 “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”

I encourage you to consider this, and it’s all I can and am myself
doing in light of the things that ail us: live and vote according to
your conscience, prayer and the Word of God best as you understand it.

But wise up: ain’t nobody literally without sin except the risen Lord
Jesus Christ.

-Glenn