The Truth Is

“The truth is incontrovertible,” said Sir Winston Churchill. “

You may love ol’ W.C., despise him or have mixed views of his various character, political positions and/or decisions (mixed bag for me, brilliant and horrific depending on the issue) but I think he nailed it in his quote here.

That fancy word, by the way, means “without or beyond controversy, too clear, not capable of being challenged or proved wrong.” HA… even this very concept is something most all of us would dispute!

What I wish to say here is that “The truth both converts and creates converts.”

What humans argue about is what “the truth” IS in any particular matter. God has no such internal arguments though at times is clearly at odds about what is true with/among His Own people as well as those who don’t believe He even exists. Consider that for a bit. He loves us regardless -don’t neglect considering that also!

In the end, what you believe or disbelieve is based on layer upon layer of fact, fiction, personal desire, experience and sometimes plain old ignorance.

Two final thoughts of mine on this are the oft-quoted “All truth is God’s truth” -as well as Paul’s statement in God’s Word (The Bible) “For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.” -2 Corinthians 13.8

Re. this statement of his, Winston agreed with God whether he knew it or not. He knows now.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

What Can We Do?

Toward the end of a recent discussion in social media I wrote:

  • “The real issue is what you and I are doing about these atrocities today. Doing. Today.
  • [A bro responded:] The question is: what can we do?
  • [I replied:]
    • Relationship 101.
    • Time, effort. Prayer w. action to
    • Publicize
    • Protest, demonstrate
    • Mt. 25 ground-up stuff (water, food, clothing, housing, medical care, incarceration visits/care)
    • Legislation to those 6 ends re. justice “for the least of these” whoever they are in your neck of the woods
    • Ground-up gut-level heart-check, off the couch, not endless memes, vid clips and debates in social media w/o practical loving our neighbor. Bearing witness in action not merely quoting scripture (as does the devil himself) but application.
    • Book of ACTS, not concepts, not self-defense, castle-moat-personal kingdom nonsense.
    • I’d say these could turn the world and the churches and the hearts of un/non/pre-believers upside down. Reflecting the words and example of Jesus knowing professing Christians and and those that are not will flak you for it.
    • These are a start.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

A Brief History of Change

First off, reading more than one source for one’s historical study and then beliefs is important, even essential because as has often been said “The victors write the history books.”

The massive divide (aforementioned here in my blogs) between urban and rural people due to personal desire, culture, comfort, what we were raised with and such all plays a major part in dis-union, differing views.

Urban demonstrations/protests that often resulted in gunfights, shootouts between “sides” including police and state militias isn’t unheard of right through U.S. history.

Two of many areas of study in my life have been the histories of cities, counties and states where I’ve lived and also the major events, rural and urban. White European settlers, U.S. born-and-bred folks, freed slaves, immigrants of various racial hue and of course Native Americans of many tribes all played and play a role.

Studying the industrial revolution, it’s many affects on the nation and in particular the eventual rise of trade unions, the West Virginia and other states coal miners vs. mine owners/management and the many riots, violence and bloodshed when the workers chose to organize regarding what they deemed (my term here) “plantation owner’s ethics” is an area of American history worth studying.

Chicago’s tactics on both “sides” are of interest- black as well as white blue-collar workers brought demands to corporation owners and management. Wages, work hours, child labor and safety issues were all major concerns which eventually brought about changes to laws and business practices of the wealthy, politically positioned -and in many cases professing Christian tycoons in Chicago and elsewhere.

In city after city where such street battles ensued it was not uncommon for authorities and business leaders to label the bulk of street demonstrations and those calling them out on fairness, equity and the ability to organize unions as Communists, Marxist-Socialists, even treasonous and enemies of the State -whether they were or were not.

There WERE a minority of actual communist-party elements, anarchists and true socialists involved, but often the demonstrators would be more accurately identified as sympathetic to at least some of those political views as dangerous and un-regulated business practices herded many into a continuum of poverty, disease, early deaths and other suffering due to long hours, an array of work conditions contributing to women, children, “lower class” corpses being pulled out of burnt buildings -not destroyed by arsonists or criminals but simply due to unsafe work spaces.

DID mob bosses infiltrate and in some cases play major roles in unionization of workers? Yes. Truth. Were some of the demonstrators guilty of tossing molotov cocktails, pulling a pistol and firing first, indeed so. Were they all in lock-mind and lock-step with later-day Soviet or today’s Chinese Communists? Certainly not.

The fact is that most of the demonstrators and marches were put down because those in political, civic and business control wanted peace and status-quo, not changes that were likely to affect their gains.

So many of the labor policies we take for granted as right, safe and beneficial in 2020 came as the result of those street events, union meetings and demands for change in our nation.

It was not unusual for a given business magnate in Chicago to pick up the phone, get the mayor on the line who then deployed the city police with weapons and in essence end the protest. When that didn’t work, the state militia was called in as many of the business/political leaders of the day having had bankrolled the pols and system itself would indeed get a quick response from the governor. Downtown Chicago has quite a history of such blood in the streets long before drug and other vice gangs came into the prominence they have today.

So you see, when I speak of change in our system/s, criticize and call for review and indeed mention injustice in our land, it starts with knowledge that change is not only possible but on the basis that so-called “worker’s riots” and so-called “race riots” in the “Great State of Illinois” have a long and inglorious, tragic history! Other cities and even rural areas in the nation are also likewise in the books as they should be. Know this: if we were to play the “who started it” game white folks win hands down. So let’s consider our times, now.

For black and brown and other people of color it’s much as it’s always been- “Hands UP!” Then “Shut up!” Then “Lock ’em up.”

If it ever seems I fret over status-quo “normalcy”, it is the historical lack of justice in status-quo policies, especially for “the least of these”. How interesting that in many of those street crowds where police and militia began shooting that a fair number of black workers were on the street along side the whites seeking humane change.

As for the clarion cry of “SOCIALISM”… the nation is certainly going to hell if we give an inch? Have a good, thorough read: https://www.truthorfiction.com/harry-s-truman-socialism-is-a-scare-word/

I pray, hope and work for change. Always have, always will. Call it what you want, we either stalemate in our cozy white injustice or we can progress with compassion and care for those in need. For the sake of “the least” we must all face the music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxvVk-r9ut8

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

People and The System/s

Here’s the deal- people can be redeemed. We can change! Some of us refuse, will never give… note “give” an inch. Systems can also change because people design them -and I mean just about any system be it governmental, economic, most any of them. Why? They’re no more infallible than the humans who create, implement and maintain them.

But systems once entrenched often take a long time to bend- often more like large (decaying?) oaks than flexing green willows.

Big shots who stand to lose most, little folk who believe in them, their words and systems or for any number of right or wrong reasons (or a mix of both) may detest or be so suspicious of a change that they will fight, maybe even die to prevent it.

I believe patience is a gift from God, a fruit of the Holy Spirit and a mother-of-all-babies cross to embrace, but there is a time for Book of Acts (not Book of Ideas, Concepts, Ideology) efforts regardless if one gets stoned (and I ain’t talkin’ pot nor other drug here…) in the process because without the process and people willing to step up and work for positive, beneficial change it just won’t happen.

Addiction to power, money, in particular a position of control as to where “rule by decree” rather than patience, genuine consideration and change -regardless of the fallout- is a proven path to longevity. I would argue there has been a sorry dearth of “benevolent dictators” in human history. Yet- longevity is fraught with turmoil because of perceived or actual loss.

Are you willing to decrease that others may increase? You might lose your head over it.

Those who have often not shared in the benefits while yet taking the hits inherent from the inequities of a given system must communicate and indeed sacrifice. We pretty much choose our sacrifices, our offerings nearly every step of the way.

People as well as systems can be redeemed. I do believe sometimes a system needs to be completely done away with. The wisdom, patience, and for authentic followers of Jesus, the love in the decisions and actual application of remedies can make all the difference. It must, for without it- “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

In my Twitter feed this a.m.:

Lance Mann@lancemann Somebody explain to me why white Evangelicals call it Marxist for me as a black man to want and seen van be [GK- I believe typos, think he means “to want to receive”] equal treatment in America?

Beth Moore@BethMooreLPM Because it threatens the system. Here’s the pattern: 1. Act horrified like the gospel is about to be destroyed & spread paranoia. Say stuff like, “I never thought I’d see the day!” 2. Distort it theologically. 3. Label it something sinister. The goal: Discredit to dismiss it.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Dominate

Who and what dominates you? Who should, must, truly deserves to?

None of us are exactly pristine in self-control so unless patently liars we don’t even dominate ourselves though we often think, choose, act as if we alone have such right, and in a sense, humanly speaking, sure that’s our right as in some senses and areas of life it truly does come down to personal choice. Even THAT gets debated, among professing Christians depending on your personal and/or shared theology.

Among others throughout The Bible, Peter makes a statement that is easy to never read, pass over or simply ignore toward the end of his first letter to the churches: “To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

The Greek word “dominion” means “force, strength, power, might”

In the Amplified version “To Him be dominion (power, authority, sovereignty) forever and ever. Amen.”

Fact is WE want dominion and it’s what has often prompted “wars and fightings among you” based on our “lusts”. The lust for control is so often the true mind, heart and guts of brutality, and I am now speaking of all people but in context, white Americans who have been asserting control for the history of our nation.

God ALONE has right, eternal right, does and will and shall always exercise the right of dominion for all power and dominion IS His and scripture is clear that in the end of things all will know this. as reality and fact.

In light of our self-righteousness, defensiveness and unwillingness to yield in justice for ALL we so often default to power-plays, force, control, violent measures. Let us face these truths and repent where we must.

“As you have done it to the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto Me.”

The core of Peter’s message in context is a call and exhortation to humility in the life of believers. Domination? That is God’s alone.

Things to consider perhaps? As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

The UNglory

There were absolute atrocities on both sides in the American Civil War. As Christians who study it we could easily admit “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

The conquering “winning side” was in truth, often harsh and corrupt in it’s treatment of the South and Southerners, not all of whom supported the Confederacy or all of it’s “ideals” including “the peculiar institution” of slavery.

Germany and the German people suffered greatly under the policies of the Allies after World War I. In part, their literal hunger and other miseries gave rise to one of the most horrible despots and Wars the world has ever known. Most in the churches were silent. The few who spoke out were ostracized, often beaten, eventually rounded up, tortured and many murdered or died in the camps.

It took decades and generations before the bulk of the German people as a whole were able to face the shame and publicly acknowledge complicity in their actions toward “undesirables” who had been deemed “threats” to the National Socialists and the Fatherland.

In full or partial support of our government/s at the time- and the military personnel during the Vietnam War -we must admit without many thousands in the streets protesting and at times sadly and I would agree wrongly destroying property, enough votes, finances and the unity of the American people were brought to bear as issues that would not end until the War ended. Regardless of your view/s it ended at the behest of a clear majority of the American people.

To this very day there are Southerners who cannot face a horror, a shame, cannot bring themselves to admit moral, spiritual and human failure for the Civil War. To do so would mean thousands died needlessly, brought their cause -no- “glory”, and died –in vain-. For many that is a bridge too far, a horror they can never face.

The souls of the German people had to reckon with crimes against humanity they had in too many ways been complicit. Public confession, repentance and desire for forgiveness have been expressed by German Christians and non-Christians alike many times. I was present having been invited to bring music sets to one such amazing, huge and heart-rending gathering of German Evangelical Christians and Jews. There were few dry eyes that night!

In my view, the exact same issues arise in regard to our actions as well as “total support” for the thousands of dead in Vietnam, both U.S., allies and Vietnamese -armed as well as citizens caught in the crossfire. Thankful some Americans have stepped up and done so. Peacemakers, regardless of political agreement/disagreement then and now.

In all three wars the last vestiges of “honor”, “glory” and total support of actions or in-actions are core to accounting for the tragic and needless brutality and loss of life.

Personally, in my lifetime I’ve made a long list of mistakes and indeed have sinned and repented and fully embrace and expect this is part of life as a Christian (or not) on planet earth. I’ve faced true, partly true and on occasion untrue accusations of wrongdoing, inaction, complicity in pain toward others.

Repenting for what you are honestly convinced you were/are not responsible for is understandable to me- and so is the integrity of confession, acknowledging mistakes or outright sin you are guilty of. It’s a two-way street and ALL of us live on it.

Here’s the punchline for the moment as I write in June, 2020:

More than one entire tribe of people have suffered, live in a continuum of injustice, fear or rage due to white folk, unjust laws and at times outright violence, even murder by those in authority. Racism is a reality and nobody chose their skin color or place of birth. We each DO choose how we think about, talk about and treat others.

When we choose to focus only on our own lives – away from the cross of Jesus and our personal crosses due to “the glory of the Republic and it’s fallen heroes”, yes, ancestors, sons, daughters and other loved ones… more blood, injustice, racism and a propping up of a nation in dire need of repentance, reconciliation, restoration and healing will not happen.

Change WILL come as the majority of the people demand it. The work is absolutely painful even above what some of us will ever be willing to do -but it is essential for healing, grace and a witness to the love of God so many of us profess to be the most important light worth shining.

I noticed in one march yesterday they sang “This Little Light of Mine”. I’m still singing it, sing it I must!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

The Most Dangerous Christian

Tyler Mennsen is a dear brother, pastor, colleague in The Evangelical Covenant Church whom myself and Wendi met some years ago as he was serving at a Cov. camp in Minnesota. He’s now a happily married man pastoring in Colorado.

Tyler is disabled and he mentions this in his piece.

I asked and received permission to share the following which he had posted in a private Ev. Cov. minister’s forum. It is so rich and so solid I suggest you read it slowly, thoughtfully and prayerfully. This is transformative truth.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

No photo description available.

THE MOST DANGEROUS CHRISTIAN -by Tyler Mennsen

I sometimes ask the question in bitterness because of the attention racism gets: Would you rather be black or disabled (born deaf, blind, with down-syndrome, etc.)? The fact the question enters my mind makes me the most dangerous type of Christian (and Pastor). What about you? Our pains will either consume us or transform us. Our pains will either make us narcissistic and selfish as we grasp for attention and respect. Or our pains will transform us into selfless individuals who practice solidarity as we draw near to the suffering of others. Consumption of our pain leads to a lack of empathy, a lack of repentance, and helps us justify building our own Kingdom. Transforming our pain leads to looking outside of ourselves, relating with the suffering of others, bearing one another’s burdens, and allows us to sacrifice our kingdom for God’s Kingdom.

I am as a Christian either setting the example of consuming my pain and feeding my own narcissism and kingdom or I am setting the example of transforming that pain, living a Christ-like life, and building God’s kingdom by loving others in their suffering? Do I want people to bear my burdens or am I more concerned about bearing theirs (Gal 6:2)? Every day I have to guard especially against these two things which come from the consumption of my pain rather than the transformation of it.

  1. A lack of empathy. Here are some examples in recent times that have entered my mind. Why should I care about your pains when you do not care about mine nor can you possibly imagine them? Why should I care about your minor surgery to fix your broken bone (whatever that bone may be) when I have had thirty-three major ones? Why should I care about your balding spot when I have lived my life without ears? Why should I care about you missing your graduation when I had surgery and missed most of the last half of my senior year and had my mouth wired shut at my own high school graduation? Racism? Yeah it sucks – but try being a disabled person of any color. Want that life? I didn’t. The list goes on. I compare my past and present experiences and pains to yours. Instead of caring about you, I think your pains and suffering aren’t as great as mine so why should I care? If I am a consumer of my pain, I do not see your pain. I only see mine. I minimize your pain and suffering and maximize my own.
  2. A Lack of Repentance. When I am a consumer of my own pain, the things I can justify are so many! I have been hurt, I am bitter, and I have not been respected. This justifies my poor treatment of other people, my not caring about their own situation, suffering, and the injustices they are experiencing. I am only concerned about myself and protecting my own life even if in so doing I participate in behavior that hurts others. When I consume my own pain, my attitude is “me vs. them.” Therefore, I don’t repent of my actions that have hurt others because I justify that hurt because it has helped me. Or I don’t repent of my actions because I ask myself – have others repented of how they have treated me in the past? One honest question I have asked recently: Why should I repent of how my actions have hurt black people when one of my most violent tormentors in middle school was a black kid? Bitterness? It has a long life-span!

A lack of empathy and a lack of repentance are signs I care only about my Kingdom. Anything that takes away tension from my Kingdom becomes either irrelevant or a threat – neither can I let stand. I believe that is why whites, especially struggling whites in more rural communities where drug addiction, poor living conditions, and lack of employment opportunities are decimating communities have such a difficult time with the Black Lives Matter Movement. And why I, if I am being honest, get frustrated with the attention racism gets compared to other systemic injustices people face (like not being an able-bodied human being). Seriously, I ask again, would you rather be black or disabled?

Yet that is my flesh talking. That is me talking when I am consuming my pain rather than being transformed by my pain. I ask that question when I am pitting pains against one another rather than standing in solidarity with people who are in pain or facing unjust systems.

That’s the irony isn’t it? Our pains, instead of making us stand in solidarity with others feeling pain make us think “Why aren’t you paying attention to my pain?” Logically, if we want our pains to go away and be heard, shouldn’t that apply to others? It makes sense, logically, and that isn’t even getting to the example Christ set for us.

What is Christ’s example? You know the answer and I know the answer. Even if I hate admitting it sometimes. Christ bore our sins so we could be free. Christ died so we could have life. Christ, instead of consuming His suffering, transformed His suffering on the Cross so we would not have to suffer an eternity in separation from God.

What if that was my attitude? What if, instead of consuming my suffering and making it all about me, I used my experience to want to end suffering and injustice for all people. Even if that means I have to focus on their suffering and injustice and not my own. Even if that means I have to quiet my voice to hear their voice. Even if that means I have to sacrifice my platform so someone else can stand on that same platform. Even if that means I have to repent of my actions against others when I don’t feel they have repented for their own.

My pain is transformed when I realize it is not about me. Have I gotten there yet? Absolutely not. And that’s what makes me dangerous. Woe to me (and you) if we care more about people bearing our burdens rather than us bearing theirs. Wanting people to bear our burdens is fueled by sin and selfishness. Desiring to bear another’s burden is fueled by the Spirit and selflessness. One is the mark of Satan, the other Christ. Which Kingdom do we want to serve?

[GK insert here: note he is preaching to a predominantly white congregation. Context is always important.]

Tyler and Emily Mennsen

RACEism?? WHAT??!

If you recognize racism as a real and present issue in the U.S. and beyond, most of this very short piece doesn’t relate to you. Skip it. Otherwise- as a professing Christ-follower in particular, believing and/or stating racism isn’t an issue in America to a person of color is like telling a person with intense asthma living next to a steel mill in China everything’s cool, “go and be filled”. God remains on the throne when injustice often rips through the world below. Faith and sadly, pretense that we in the churches don’t wrestle with the reality of racism is like walking in a soaking rainstorm proclaiming the sun is shining above our heads. The deeper truth is that it IS shining -far above the very real deluge we’re drenched in below the clouds.

Here is a link to an article full of information worth considering.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/158-resources-understanding-systemic-racism-america-180975029/

Public Service Announcement

For my staunch Republican and Libertarian friends:

If you truly wish to create hard core leftists one sure way is to shoot rubber bullets and tear gas peaceful protesters. You might do so on your way to also creating a photo opp for publicity by holding up a Bible in front of a church neither of which you are apparently comitted to.

You continue by repeatedly bullying anyone who begs to disagree with you and further encourage strong-arm tactics against people by both police and military, fire anyone around you who may disagree.

Now if you REALLY want to create revolution you imagine and act upon law change that effectively bolsters your power and sidelines those you consider enemies. Top all this off by manufacturing reason to incarcerate those who would speak against such tactics and thus burn democracy to the ground along with civility.

Oh, just a small matter but to mine majority support tweak policies which maintain minorities stay minorities thus shoring up your power against “the enemy”.

All old historical tactics but useful until the tide turns -as it always eventually does.

Whomever you are, wherever you are, in whatever nation and in whatever political party, congratulate yourself for concocting a bitter but most effective recipe. And what was that phrase? Ahhh yes, “Let them eat cake.”

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Get Understanding??

Division between people -including Christians with other Christians- is often a sea of broad turbulent waters. Like naval warfare we circle around looking for the weak spot to gain advantage and WIN.

Proverbs 4.1, 5, 7 among many other scriptures speak about the importance of getting understanding. This doesn’t merely happen upon coming to saving faith in Jesus. In fact you may have decades of a walk with Him, intense hours of Bible study over many years, even a slew of theological degrees and not know how to honestly, accurately articulate your “opponents” viewpoint. Yep, I said that. Please read on…

As issues of race, abortion and more surface in social media and beyond -one thing shouts loudly again and again at least in my flawed view: if you cannot faithfully, truly articulate the opposing position of those you disagree with, if not completely to their satisfaction at least to the extent they know you understand THEIR viewpoint and core reasoning… the conversation becomes something between a cow-pie tossing match and World War III.

When I haven’t cared enough to truly study, research, listen, take input from another person (not of your own “tribe”) and move beyond the “WIN… TRUMP ‘EM AND GIVE NO QUARTER” having near or fully zero agreement on any of their points including small, side matters where I –do– agree with them… it becomes rather dishonest, disingenuous to simply fire away at “the enemy” they seem to be.

If you cannot honestly, faithfully represent at least their core argument concern/s you will not convince them (at least emotionally) you care about them. Do you? Will you? Are they not equally loved by God as you are? Further, you will fail to demonstrate your own true knowledge of their position. Intellectualism not. Ethical not. Integrity not.

I’m convinced in such a (common!) scenario peace based on meaningful dialogue is impossible. This is why listening, and truly studying an issue from BOTH viewpoints are both essential.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” -2 Timothy 2.15 has massive implications as does an A. W. Tozer quote- “It says and it also says.” My foundation must be relation to Jesus my Lord and Savior and scripture but please consider how often we never take the time within the Christian Church itself to truly and deeply consider an opposing view. Such in my view, is often more based on our own sense of security, comfort and fear of what those of our own tribe may think/say about us than the integrity of serious study, consideration and dialogue -as if the devil will immediately devour us. This is neither wise nor is it about genuine faith and obedience to God as sometimes… sometimes it’s more about clinging to status-quo than truth.

The next time you wish, feel free to simply “fire away” -but know that if it doesn’t kill you please consider whether your own argument is dead in the water due to your own ignorance and tactics.

Something to consider along the journey?

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn