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Breaking The Water

The idea of being a sheep among wolves is a terrifying one.  Imagine standing there in a room full of people, or even animals ready to devour you.  I imagine that Danielsea-wave-storm-blue-lighthouse-sea-wave-storm-lighthouse-hd had a very good sense of what it must have felt like.  However his imprisonment in that den of lions was not intentional on his part.  The disciples were sent into the world intentionally in such a fashion.  Jesus made no secret of what He was doing when He sent them out in Matthew 10.  Moreover, that mission continues at the end of the Gospels.  The calling to all Christians is to go out into a world that will not like, appreciate, or listen to us.  And in many cases it will try to silence us by any means necessary.  For most of us that has been a very foreign concept.  It is unthinkable that someone would try to harm us for giving hope.  Yet, it is coming.  We have been spoiled in this country for a very long time.  We have been protected by a false sense of morality and goodness and a paper shield in our governmental system.

There is a growing movement, not covered by a hashtag or a college group looking for attention.  It is far more subtle than that.  It is the movement of accepting the fallen and simply moving on with life like it is a normal thing.  We drive by it on a daily basis, see it on the news, and even in our own homes.  When things break we accept them as broken and then just go on by.  The practice of shrugging our shoulders and accepting sin has become our practice.  Apathy has slowly invaded our culture.  It came in slowly through the guise of simply letting people be who they wanted to be.  To keep our noses in our own business and not judging others.  On the surface it sounds like such a great and kind way to be.  You go your way and I will go mine and neither of us will affect the other in life.  I won’t hurt your feelings and you won’t hurt mine and everything will just be okay.  It makes perfect sense.  No one wants anyone else to hold them accountable.  No one likes to be bossed about.  As a species we really do not like being told how to live…until it goes wrong.

When we look around we find that without knowing it a degradation on culture has taken hold.  All of a sudden everyone is shouting for help.  Everyone is demanding to be listened to, demanding to be given precedence over another.  The problem with apathy is that it only ends in death.  Apathy is a slow flood, a steady drip that continues and continues until everything is inundated, separated, lost.

When I look at the ministry of Jesus, I do not see one simple problem He was speaking to.  His words speak to a myriad of problems.  The apathy of society is a major one.  In Luke He gives an example of care in the face of apathy in the story of the good Samaritan.  It is a very broad stroke of genius covering several aspects of the society.  The question is whose job is it to care for people?  Whose duty is it to care for people in need?  Those questions were asked in Genesis by Cain in regards to his own brother (after he had murdered him of course).  The answer is the same.  We are responsible for one another.  Whether we like it or not, as God’s children, we are supposed to care for one another.  The same calling that Jesus gave to His followers is an echo of God’s words to Israel through various prophets, Amos being one of the loudest.

For Christians that means that we have work to do.  Not easy simple fun work either.  The world is moving so fast and in such a direction to completely reject the word of God in all forms.  That means that coming to someone in the name of Christ immediately will be offensive to the world.  Apathy cannot abide empathy.  It cannot fathom that someone would, should, or can care about more than itself.  Apathy is a self defeating system of behavior.  The slow flood that has seeped into the fibre of this culture is not slowing down.  Rather it is speeding up.  It is a tide that is rising and soon will be the surge of a storm that will wash us over and not in a good way.  We must be the breakwater in that storm for those around us.

We can not hide away in our church buildings and hope that no one will come knocking.  Changes in the world do not sound a retreat for us, rather they are a call to action.  The church is not a haven for the saints, it is a hospital for sinners.  It is a place where we get the tools we need to go out and be His hands and feet.  It is not a place to pass judgment, but a place to teach correct living, grace, justice, mercy, kindness, and love.  We cannot be worried about the world coming in, we need to be looking for the chance to break the waters and stand against the evil that would seek to harm our brothers and sisters.

Jesus spends His last several hours with the disciples telling them that things are going to change.  That the world is really not going to go along with what they have to teach.  The list is painful to those who have lived in the dark.  Yet, in the same teaching He is telling them not to be concerned with that.  It is time that we took Him at His word and went out into the wolves.  It is time we waded into the tide and stood on the solid foundation of God’s word and marveled as the waves crashed around us, broken by the bulwark that is faith, hope and love.


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A couple of years ago there was an insurance commercial that made me laugh so hard I almost had an accident.  Even when I thought about it it made me laugh, it still makes me chuckle.  The whole premise was a camel being excited about Wednesday, “hump day”.  It’s corny but still just…fantastic.  Wednesday is the turnaround day.  It’s the day where we stop staring at the beWednesdayginning of the week and beginning what is hopefully a quick decent into the weekend.  It is a transition day.

During what we refer to as Holy week, Jesus’ week began to transition.  Business picked up and pieces began to move from their place.  Wednesday sees an ending to the journey as it were.  Jesus is in the Jerusalem area.  He has finished the journey from which He called His disciples to pick up their cross and follow Him.  And, they missed it.  All of His closest disciples got caught up in the words and they missed the calling.  They heard the word death and drew a me
ntal line.  Sure they loved Jesus, sure they cared for Jesus, sure they believed in Jesus.  But Jesus had told them that He was going to Jerusalem to die.  That is where they stopped.

Make no mistake they continued to follow Jesus.  But somewhere inside there was a confusion as to what was actually happening.  So much so that a couple of Disciples began to ask Jesus if they could sit at His side when He came into His glory.  The grace of Jesus is astounding at this request.  He calmly explains that what is coming for Him will come for them.  Jesus’ call is indeed a revolution that will require a complete surrender to God.  Yet, though they have been told three times that Jesus is going to die, they still miss the point.

On Wednesday night, as they are eating supper, a woman brings in a jar of expensive oil and anoints Jesus.  The disciples, John names Judas in his Gospel, get mad because she has supposedly wasted good perfume.  It is such a a petty complaint veiled in concern for the poor.  Jesus knows that they have once again missed the point.  However, this woman, whoever she was, has gotten the point.  Jesus is about to go where they cannot follow.  There will not be another chance to give this kind of care to Jesus.  He is going to be arrested, tortured, and killed.  This woman is the first person to really accept the reality of this.  Even Peter will continue to get it wrong, until he finally sees it happening.  For them seeing is believing, but for this woman, she knows, she believes because there has not been one thing that Jesus has said or done to make her think that He would be wrong.  So on Wednesday she expresses her faith in a moving way.

On the other side of the coin is Judas.  A disciple that has been with Jesus, has heard Jesus teach, has seen the miracles, has followed him across the lands.  Yet doubt gnaws at him in ways deep and dark.  We cannot know the motivation of Judas to go to the pharisees and betray Jesus.  Theories exist abundantly, but since he never explains his actions, we must simply speculate.  Matthew would lead us to believe that money was a motivator.  Luke and John state that he was possessed by the devil.  Maybe it was those things, maybe a combination.  Maybe he was frustrated by this woman wasting money and Jesus’ response about the poor.  The other disciples had failed to grasp the message, Judas could have missed the point entirely.  Even further maybe he had been thinking a lot about trying to spur on the revolution, and found Jesus’ words at the Last Supper to be permission.  Really we don’t know.  Judas would kill himself after the deed was done.

We don’t like to think about Judas on a Wednesday.  But his failure to grasp the mission of Jesus, the Kingdom of God, and the call of Christ is one that echoes through the years to us.  His actions Wednesday give movement to the week, not in a good way.  Once the woman has recognized Jesus’ calling, and shown her belief in Him, Judas moves.  There are two actions on this Wednesday, one of worship, and one of betrayal.  How are our Wednesdays shaping up.  Are we making moves of worship and acceptance and faith?  Or are we moving to betray, to deny, and thus to our own demise?  It would be easy to say that we could be moving a third way, we are just being like the other disciples.  If we follow their narrative we don’t come off well either.  They all run away and scatter, Peter denies Jesus even while following Him to the temple, and the rest just not mentioned.  It seems that the middle path leads to the same point of destruction, or at least to nothingness.  How much would things have been different had they simply believed and worshipped?  How much more of a witness would that have been?  We cannot know from their perspective, though all but Judas were reinstated and set to many good works.  Only John is left unmartyred.

Wednesday, like every day is a choice.  We can choose to worship, to lay down what the world would see as valuable and concentrate on Christ.  Or we can choose to deny, to betray, to wait, to simply stay still, to become nothing.  What use is silver that cannot be spent, or empty words lacking motion?

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Notes In The Rests

Notes In the rests  

I remember being angry.  It is not an anger at one certain thing just anger.  Perhaps it was a build up, or maybe just empty teenage angst.  But I wasn’t even a teena4d165abc3771eb83856405991cf12ac7ger so that couldn’t have been it.  It was just anger, rage, hostility towards everything and a serious lack of understanding of the world.  It felt like a cauldron trying to bo
il over and out onto everything.  Passion begged for release of some kind.  A canvas couldn’t take it, paint just wasn’t meant for the type of emotion this was.  Colors just don’t convey concisely what this was.  Deep, deep down something wanted out, an expression was required to heal whatever wound was concealed.  Words may fail but perhaps the best way of describing it is that somewhere in the recesses of my humanity i felt abandoned, alone, separated.  That’s a better word, separated.  Separated from the biggest need of my soul and inner being.  And that separation manifested itself in anger at everything in the world.

I can vividly remember the first day I picked up a guitar.  It was not a day for good music resembling anything other than simple noise and nonsense.  An chaotic barrage of senseless notes and half tones amidst the pain of soft skin on nickel strings.  Yet, there was an electricity  that flowed between hand and instrument.  I have always been a musician.  It started with blowing on random horns laying around the house, a Yamaha “keytar” my uncle gave me.  Then it moved to Trombone, then Saxophone.  And when I was 14 for Christmas my parents gave me a guitar. It was a black electric guitar complete and an amplifier to go with it.  It had been several years since my hands had touched that first guitar (my first experience had been when I found another uncles old acoustic underneath a bed at my grandmother’s).  When I took “her” out of the case my hand and arm felt complete.  yes its sounds stupid, or corny or made up, but it seriously felt that way.  As I learned to play, suddenly that rage that had been down low became something else.  It became longing, it became passion, expression, and desire.  It wasn’t until I had “Jolene” that I truly understood music on a deep level, and I’m still learning what it is(yes my guitar has a name, they all have names).

Music manifests itself in a myriad of styles and methods.  And while it is so easy to dismiss one as less than another, what I have come to learn is that each one has it’s own voice, personality and means of communicating emotion, meaning, and passion.  Why did music heal me?  Well, for starters music alone did not heal me.  It was the medicine by which God healed me.  It was a melding of sounds, words, and emotion into one medium that spoke with the voice I was speaking.  What I realized was that the voice inside me that was crying out was one that was lost and alone and separated from what would make it whole.  So blues, power chords, and a growling voice combined to cry out.  Yet so often when we cry out we don’t actually hear anything calling back.  We don’t listen enough in the rests.  We try to solo constantly, but the moment I stopped and listened, let the music breath, let the rest happen, I heard a voice answering my call.  It was God singing back, doing the other part of call and response.  Rock and Roll gave me a voice to cry out what was inside of me, to question, to rage against that which I felt was wrong.  It still gives me that voice.  There are many styles of music that do the same for every other person on the planet.

Maybe your style of music is Southern Gospel music.  I know many people who I love dearly and that is their bread and butter.  It is not mine, not that I refuse to listen or play it.  I am of the belief that all music is a vessel of message, and so if that is what I need to do to reach you then I will do my best to play as best as I can.

The point of this is that music is a uncontainable commodity to humanity.  It is a call and response to that which we cannot understand or reach.  And there is an answer in it.  But we don’t listen.  There is an answer to Kurt Cobain’s cry of rage, it’s in the poetry and questions of Jon Foreman.  There is an answer to the blues of the delta, it is in the spirituals and urban gospel in the church down the street from the dive bars.  There is an answer to the empty boasting of hip hop’s riches and wealth, it’s Le’crae and Trip Lee.  There an answer to the carefree good ole’ boyish in modern country, it is the completeness in bluegrass gospel and southern gospel.  Don’t miss the message for the words and style.  Don’t throw away an opportunity to have your questions answered because you are too busy seeking in the rests.  Listen to the music, listen to the answers to your questions, be completed, made whole, calmed, reassured, encouraged, lifted up, and found.  Some music may not be for you, music is always a conversation, many are private, but we are given the open window into someone’s soul when they perform.  Let us be listen to what they are learning in their conversations.  Who know’s what we may hear in the rests.

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When I used to hunt white-tail deer in Alabama it always started off early in the morning.  Long before the sun would rise I would trudged through the cold wet forest find my stand and climb up as high as my body would allow.  Then I would sit in silence in the dark.  The forest would be still for a good hour and a half.  No sounimg_1480d but the wind in the trees or the dew falling on the leaves below.  But suddenly, just before dawn, as the sky began to turn from inky black to a grey, the world would begin to come alive.  Birds would chirp, squirrels would chatter, and crows would caw.  Life began to move.  Jon Foreman describes the sunrise from the west coast as a moment where the rest of the sky is waiting to fall in love(my paraphrase).  It is a sudden moment.  What once was black and void becomes illuminated in a wash of light that penetrates the shadows with an unknowable force.  One of the reasons I don’t hunt anymore is that I just don’t like to be cold.  I love being outside, and I love nature, but I dread being cold.  Sitting in a tree, shivering in the dark just has lost its appeal to me.  I guess also I would rather view the wildlife than kill it too.  But I digress.  I would sit and shiver waiting and longing ever so much for the sun’s rays to hit me and warm me up.  Its such an odd thing for the light to stream through the trees in beams of radiant gold that you can feel on your face, like a warm hand cupping your cheek.

We put a good deal of stock in the end of the year celebrations.  Generally we give the biggest gifts at Christmas.  We make the boldest plans at New Years.  The trick is that perhaps the focus is a bit lopsided.  If we give so much focus to the end and the beginning, where is the in between?  What are we doing in the middle?  The response might be that you simply maintain.  That you go through life and make sure that one day goes through much like the one before it.  No real change, no real movement, just a cog in the machine of what has been created around you.  That doesn’t sound very much like a life that has much going for it.  In fact it sounds very much like the very definition of stuck in a rut.  On the whole, 2016 certainly seemed to be a year of yuck.  There was a ridiculous amount of turmoil both at home and abroad.  Even more locally there has been a good deal of just upheaval.  There are at least two generations who are trying to figure out how to take over for the outgoing generation.  One is bitter, the other completely inept at handling adversity, both missed out on something in their adolescence.  So where does that leave us?  It leaves us at suddenly.

The rising sun will come to us from Heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death.  Luke 1:78-79.  We are left at suddenly when we come to the realization that there has been no movement because we have all been walking around blind and cold.  It is the same concept of slowly getting sick and then having medicine make you feel better much faster.  You never realized just how sick you were until, suddenly, you were better.  This past year we have been in a bad place as a society.  We have been cold and in the dark.  It is time that the suddenness of the dawn reaches us…rather, that it be allowed to reach us.  The reaction to sudden light is to shrink away, to even feel physical pain.  But we need to allow ourselves to be warmed and healed.

My prayer for you this New Year is that you allow suddenly into your life.  That suddenly you find healing, suddenly you find forgiveness and forgive.  Life cannot begin to move until suddenly things have changed.  No more ruts, no more merely making it through.  Rather, making it move, making it change, making it better, and making more of what has been given to us.

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Her Daddy Wears Blue

Her Daddy Wears Blue

There is a little girl I know.  She has the cutest pigtails and smile that you have ever seen.  She doesn’t walk, she skips, she dances, and she moves through life like she is always bathed in sunshine.  It is her-daddy-wears-blueimpossible not to smile when you see her go by with her family.  She is so loved, so protected, so safe, just like every child deserves to be.  Just the way I want my child.  Every child needs to be protected, to be safe, to be loved.  There is no human life ever born that does not deserve such a thing.  Yet, this world is on a descent into something darker, and it scares me.  It is not an election that scares me.  It is not a social movement or a political agenda that scares me.  What scares me is an attitude shift in our culture, a devaluing of human life, a sense that lives are being boiled down to mere color or station.  It is a sickening sense that we are beginning to slowly forget what it means to be human.  The darkness creeps just at the edge of sight where once it was an invisible piece of this world only talked about in hushed whispers and R-rated movies.

The thoughts that come along with this creeping darkness continually go back to the children.  Are we allowing the sunshine in their lives to be snuffed out.  Are the youth of our culture growing up in a shadowy forrest with nothing good being presented to them.  Children are innocent of these problems…used to be innocent of these problems.  No longer.  We have connected everything in our lives to an information system that lacks a filter.  We have allowed attitudes and lifestyles to infiltrate the safety that once was childhood.

In a box, in my home, is a cardboard cutout from my son’s preschool days.  It has the words “What My Daddy Wears” written in permanent marker on a paper neck tie.  On the back are the dictated words of a four year old pontificating on his father’s profession.  For all of his four years he had a pretty clear view in his mind of what that was.  “Takes Pictures” was what he dictated.  It was accurate.  He was confident in that assessment of his father’s employment.  It was a stable point in his mind.  There was no fear associated with it.

The little girl, however; she does not share that same point of view.  In her young mind there is a different place.  Her daddy does not “take pictures”.  He wears blue.  On his belt is a cell phone, like many other fathers.  But also on that belt is a gun, a taser, wrist restraints, a baton, a radio, extra magazines and batteries. His business suit is a chest protector of strengthened Kevlar and various other attachments.  When he leaves for the evenings she knows, in her very young mind she knows, he is going to do something dangerous.

On Monday night in our small community a very troubled young man took it upon himself to break the law and fire upon two officers.  The happy ending is that these men lived and will recover… physically.  But for several hours the community held their collective heartbeats.  As anxious as my home was during the manhunt, I cannot fathom what was going through the home of this little girl.  Her daddy was out there, chasing a man with a gun, running in the dark, all the while wearing blue.  Hours after the man was caught and placed in a cell, her daddy came home.

When I go home to my family, I go home mentally tired but no worse for wear.  When her daddy come homes he is bruised, he is cut, he is sore.  That is of little matter though, because he is home.  That is where daddy’s belong at the end of the day.  They belong home.  We need to do more as a society and a culture to make sure that they make it home.  It is time that every single one of us took stock of our lives and found value.  It is time that we see every human life as valuable, and not with a social media movement, but with real action.

Her daddy wears blue, other daddy’s wear suits, or uniforms of different colors, or regular clothes.  In the end the color of our clothes and our skin is of little matter.  There is no value in the prism of colored light.  Darkness only flees from all the colors together making themselves visible.  Value is in the light itself.  Value is in the life that God breathed into every soul.  The soul has no color, it wears only a raiment of fallen creation.  Inside is where it shines.  It is time we let the light out, and stopped dividing it into so many variations.  We are all God’s creatures, and its time we all shined against this darkness.  It is time every child was able to walk around like they are bathed in sunshine, happy, safe, protected, innocent, and loved.

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What’s Done In The Dark

It is quite difficult to watch the news anymore.  You can’t even read did anymore either.  Everywhere we look there is a vast amount of opinion floating around exposing what is said to be story.  It doesn’t matter what veracity the moment has.  If someone deems that it fits their own political or social agenda then it is wrapped up nicely, packaged in shiny trappings, place conveniently on the storefront of the world scene and sold as truth.  The problem is that many times, none of what we are getting is truth.  facts are presented in such a way as to be absolute and unquestionable.  Yet at the heart of what we have is merely sensationalism.

Several years ago there was a coal mine tragedy.  Like many people i got caught up in it and was very concerned with what was happening.  It was awful.  Families lost loved ones, their daily lives interrupted by the ripping and tearing of ground burying hopes and dreams in an instant.  The media was all over it.  There was 24 hour coverage from the 24 hour news networks.  Many reporters interviewing family members as they waited for news of their loved ones and clung to to tiny threads of hope.  The talking heads talked on screen about how they felt for these people, and how they knew the terror they felt.  One of these reporters in particular picked up on a rumor.  He announced for the world to hear that all of the miners were safe and they would be joining their loved ones at a nearby church in a few short minutes.  There was joy, relief and happiness everywhere on the scene.  I turned the TV off and went to bed.  The morning revealed an entirely different scene.  The rumor was simply that, a rumor.  The miners had not been reunited with their families.  The news had reported a lie.  Where once was joy now there was shame and sorrow and tragedy.

Why revisit this awful narrative?  Because those who fail to learn the lessons of history are destined and doomed to repeat it.  Our media is a fascinating beast in America.  It is hungry to devour anything and everything it can, and it will tolerate no accountability.  It is quick to shout and scream at the slightest social injustice, but will not easily be cowed into responsibility.  Today you can turn on just about any news service and witness this first hand.  There will be reports that quote statistics from five years ago in order to prove a point today.  There is no mention of other data that may have proved contrary to whatever opinion is being sold as fact.  In terms of social justice, and lets be honest there cannot be such a thing in this day and age, the media does not report the full story.  No, what we get is the scintillating bits and pieces that enrage and enflame emotions.  All the while the reporters and networks walk a tightrope of grey in order to remain unbiased.  It is a lie, and it is every bit as harmful as what was told all those years ago.  The airwaves, digital and print media are flooded with shame, sorrow, and tragedy.

Elections years glow with this sort of behavior.  Networks line up and choose sides like children picking for a school yard ball game.  One side says one thing about their candidate, the other rebuttals quickly.  Yet in the exchange we are all left with nothing of substance.  We stand there, like the last kid picked and feel neglected completely.  Worse in the event someone says anything on the contrary to popular opinion they are shouted down and dismissed as ignorant and savage.  The media, either side, would love nothing more than to crucify someone just to prove a point.  And here is the swerve.

Jesus was arrested…illegally.

Jesus was tried…illegally.

Jesus was convicted…by a court that had no real power of its own.

Jesus was found faultless…by the government in power.

Jesus was punished…simply to silence a mob.

Jesus was executed…simply to appease a mob.

The problems in this country are many and extremely complex.  This is not a happy time in the United States.  We are all running around in the dark seeking to blame someone for the discontent.  Those in power would cover their deeds with flowery words, all the while moving in the shadows to maintain power.  When we look at the arrest, trial and execution of Christ we notice something rather glaring.  It was what was done in the dark that was the injustice.  He was betrayed in the dark.  He was tried in the dark.  He was convicted in the dark.  When things were brought to the light of day, no fault could be found.  But because of what was done in the dark the people would not listen.

It is time in this country when we ceased to be swayed by a lying media, a dishonest government, and a body of people who will not allow truth to be known.  Our Constitution demands that we have better than what we are being allowed.  It is time that journalistic integrity meant something.  The light of day needs to be allowed to shine on the truth.  It doesn’t matter what political or social agenda you are a part of, if you do not allow truth to be the foundation of it, then you are serving a lie.  I think you deserve more as a human being than to be stuck serving a lie.  And I think regardless of where you live you have a God given right to demand truth.  Here is what that looks like.

Put down your phone, get off of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and whatever else.  Stop videoing everything you see and making a stink about no one doing anything when you were just standing there filming the event happen.  You want social justice, flee from social media like the plague it is.  Stop trusting everything you see on TV, do some research yourself and sort out the facts like the intelligent person you are.  We have worked too hard as a society to be led astray shiny flashing lights.  You want social justice, first learn about what you are upset about and be a solution, not a problem.  Screaming through a bullhorn, or the modern day equivalent, using a hashtag does nothing.  Go be a solution.  Stop being outraged, be compassionate and really understand what that word means(it means that you feel it physically while not being a direct part).  Get rid of the apathy you feel, and allow empathy top move you to action.  Raging against the machine only puts a spotlight on the machine and its broken pieces.  Working to fix the machine benefits everyone.  Understand that complaining about a situation without offering a solution is just whining.  Its time we started asking questions that caused forward momentum(questions like, “why is this news”, “what is the other side”, “is this the full story” etc.).

Why do I rail so hard against Social Media?  It causes too many people to become apoplectic.  Moreover, it feeds the ignorance that so very much pervades every avenue of our society.  It was fun for a while to catch up, but then somehow we all became fearless from behind a keyboard, and any and all accountability was shunned.  Now we have a major problem dividing this country because social media has become a trusted news source.  Social media is great when its puppies and vacation photos and laughing babies.  It is a cancer when it is a vehicle for political and social agenda.  So post pictures of your dinner, but preach your sermons with you life and save the hashtag justice system for the middle schoolers who haven’t learned any better. (and before you troll me in the comments, yes I am well aware that I am just as guilty about that as everyone else).

What’s done in the dark is done there to hide it.  We need to be working in the light, showing the world exactly what we know to be true, and good, and right.  But we need to be DOING it.  And we need to be demanding it from those who would be in charge.


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Long Division


I have stared at the flashing line on the blank space of the word processing software for four days thinking about how to go about putting my thoughts down in a succinct way.  I do not wish to be misunderstood or judged incorrectly for saying what I am going to say.  So reader beware, if you begin reading this piece you must read the entire thing.  You cannot skim it.  Within may be some heavy hitting stuff that will likely inflame your conservative and or liberal sensibilities.  And therein lies the first instance of the problem that is slowly eating this country alive.

Abraham Lincoln once surmised an ancient biblical perspective with his quote, “A house divided cannot stand.”  He’s actually quoting Jesus from Mark 3:25, you know when everyone was telling Jesus He was actually the devil (in my opinion its one of the more humorous examples of human ignorance when it comes to change).  Lincoln definitely knew a thing or two about division, he was dealing with a seceded south and a country torn apart by war and greed and every manner of human indecency.  2016 find us very close to the same point, perhaps with even more variables to deal with.  The fact is that this country is as divided now as it has ever been in its history.

We are a people who love to group up and see enemies everywhere.  We divide on political lines, we divide on religious lines, on sexual orientation lines, and on where we can go to the bathroom.  We divide over and over and over again until all we are left with is ourselves.  We have ceased to be a country united, and a nation of individuals all selfishly seeking to be heard and recognized for our perceived unique individuality.  Yet, reality is that we are born just as broken and alone as the next person.

We have forgotten something along the way as Americans.  Maybe it was our arrogance that really ramped up in the 80’s.  Maybe it was the withdrawn cynicism of the 90’s.  Perhaps it happened before that, I can’t really speak to decade that I was not witness to.  Somewhere along the way we decided that our opinion equalled fact, and that our our view point was the only viewpoint acceptable.  Thus we divide ourselves and lay claim to anything and everything that we may perceive as helpful and or harmful to our particular group.  Its a terrible way to live and its how people get hurt.  Its how hate is bred and nurtured and cultivated.  It is how race is made evident and xenophobia pervades a culture.  If you build enough walls around yourself you will eventually grow to fear and hate everything outside of those walls.  That is America.   A country of walls and terrified hateful people constantly hurling things over their walls seeing if they will strike the imagined enemy outside.

Before the tragedy of 9/11 we were very much divided as well, yet for a short time after we banded together as Americans.  We proudly held hands and sang about our country, we even tried to listen to God together.  We sought healing.  It took very little time to divide again, and this time we divided further on every issue.  We blamed a president, we blamed a party, then we blamed another president and another party.  We listened to talk radio and watched talking heads on biased networks and were lead by every other agenda until we cannot go out in public without glancing sideways at our neighbors wondering secretly if they are out to get us.  And the cycle repeats, each time we claim solidarity after a tragedy only to divide further along some line.  As we do our country falls further away.

When was the last time we really listened to another opinion?  When was the last time stopped listening to our own voice and really tried to hear someone else?  It seems to me that no matter where we turn we do not see people seeking a solution to anything, rather we seek for a place to lay blame.  If we could just figure out who to blame then that would make it all better, we would be able to put an end to the awful things that happen.  That is just not true.  Oh sure, people need to be held responsible.  But there are always scars.  When we look at our scars the pain will always be remembered, and blame will never take away that sickening memory.

Perhaps what I am trying to say is that we have forgotten as a people how to heal and how to forgive.  For the past 15 years allow have known is self righteous anger and indignation.  We have not had a moment to sit and reflect and move forward.  24 hour news media needs to be turned off, it has done nothing but breed a generation of paranoia.  How can you possibly allow yourself time to process when the talking heads are spewing another negative story about how bad the world is.  Social media is no better.  The “headlines” of every story contain explosive language meant to bring about an emotional response from readers.  And as such we are left raw nerved and red eyed to the point of madness and insomnia.  It has to stop.

If you have come to this country and are a part of its citizenship I am begging you to read these words below and truly think about what it means.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.-US Constitution

We are Americans, we are not caucasian Americans, or african americans, or latino americans, or gay americans, or transgender americans.  We are Americans.  We are unified by the belief that those that came before established something better than what the rest of the world offered.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  -Declaration of Independence

Our forefathers risked their lives and everything about their legacy so that we would have a country where we could be free.  Where we could be unified together regardless of where we came from.  Whether or not you believe in God Almighty as your creator or biological science as your progenitor you are free in this country to seek out certain unalienable rights, and that makes us unified.  If we are to continue as a country we must stop this ceaseless division over every little thing.  We must learn to listen to each other.  We have to stop the unadulterated arrogance and feeling that our way is the only way and that if your opinion is different than mine then you are the enemy.  We have to heal, and we have to forgive each other.  Failure to do so is a death sentence for this country.

I will close with this, and I’m sure some people will read this and roll their eyes that I am going to talk about God and Jesus.  You are more than welcome to roll away, I can acknowledge your opinion, and your disagreement with mine without casting judgement on you.  Judgement has never actually been my job, but thats another piece to write later.

The Kingdom of Heaven is not something that belongs on another plane of existence.  In fact Jesus was ushering in that Kingdom with His ministry and it is the job of the Church to further such a Kingdom.  It is not a kingdom of riches and conquest and self righteous indignation at the rest of the world around it.  The Kingdom of Heaven is a kingdom of rest, of peace, of unity, and of healing.  It is a kingdom where God is recognized as sovereign and where His will is sought above all else.  Selfish ambition is abandoned and service to Christ and to others is taken up.  You can disagree with my belief system all you want.  But you cannot deny that seeking to serve other people instead of yourself is more beneficial to mankind.  You cannot tell me that healing an peace are bad things and should be shunned.  The Kingdom of Heaven is a dream in every person ever born.  Jesus says that doesn’t have to be a dream.  But its takes something on our part.  It takes surrender.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

Perhaps you are like me and are tired of this long division.  Perhaps you will join me in seeking the kingdom of Heaven.

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