Rudderless

September 21, 2016

I was born in 1954 and was in elementary school through the early to mid 1960’s. I remember the Civil Rights movement in our country but admittedly, not well.  I usually left the room when my parents, or more likely my grandparents, tuned into Walter Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley.  There must have been someone on the third network but I don’t recall who it was.

For reasons of which I’m not entirely sure, I remember the Vietnam War with greater clarity. Maybe because it was just a few years later, it was part of my High School experience and was still going on when I enlisted in the Navy.  I recall each night (but not because I watched regularly as said before), the newscasters would report how many troops had lost their lives that day in that far away, very confusing war.  I remember reading on one occasion that the death toll was getting too high (and the war too unpopular), so the government (who ever that is/was) decided to redefine “dying in combat.”  If a soldier died in the field, they were part of the daily tally.  If they died in a field hospital or anywhere else, they were not.  Overnight the reported death toll plummeted.  If that’s true, is there any wonder then that my generation began to distrust the government and institutions?!  “America right or wrong,” my foot!

The deaths of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy are clear in my mind. The song “Abraham, Martin and John” by Dion stirs me to this day and on occasion causes me to tear up.  And that brings me to a question.  We were a country torn apart in the 60’s.  Not unlike today.  The issues are, for sure, different but there is great division.  In the 1960’s many of these divisive issues were addressed by artists, performers, college students, folk singers, rock singers…  Peter, Paul and Mary; Pete Seeger; Crosby, Stills and Nash to name only a few, sang songs intended to challenge the corporate mind set of Americans.  Where are these people now?  I don’t mean the exact people; I mean where are the folks who ought to be addressing our corporate conscience?

This is not intended to be a partisan comment but did you know that President Obama will be the first president in our history to leave office having been at war for his whole 8 year presidency? And yet… where are the anti-war people?  Seriously…where are they?!  And where are the people who will sing songs about terrorism and how it causes us to behave like animals?  Where are they?  Where are the poets and celebrities who should challenge us to think about what’s happening with race relations in this country?  No, not a multi millionaire who will kneel during the National Anthem.. give me a break.  I mean someone who can really speak to us and be heard.  Someone who actually makes sense; not the retreads from 20 years ago who just can’t live without being in the lime light.  Who are the folks that can lead us through the malaise of partisan political and social agendas to a place that allows for real change?  Where are the college students who in their youthful enthusiasm will stand up for what’s “right” rather than seek “safe spaces” against those who would “personally offend” them.  How cowardly and selfish this generation has become!  I do not point fingers because I am part of the generation that raised them.  Where are they?  Where are our leaders?  Because lets be very clear… without leaders we don’t know where we are going.  And that’s just another way of saying: “we are lost.”  Right?

I would be remiss if I did not ask one additional question: Where is the Church?  Is there anyone in the Church who is or can speak to the moral issues of our day?  In my mind the answer is a rousing NOPE!  We in the church are tired, weak, irrelevant and silent.  And we are so busy battling one another that addressing conflicts outside of ourselves… well… not today.  We are so split on so many issues that we can’t possibly have a collective voice.  In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) alone, there is a major push to support the Palestinians and oppose and criticize the Israelis.  I’m not arguing at this point for one or the other.  I’m simply commenting that we are deeply divided on some very controversial issues so how can we effectively come together and speak about other matters that are equally divisive.  The truth is… we can’t and we don’t.

Our country is currently a rudderless ship. We are being blown about by the winds of those with the biggest voices… not those that make sense or that have our best interests in mind.  How do we prevent this random path that we find ourselves on?  One solution is to have a rudder but it seems that there are none on the horizon.  The second is to be grounded.  If one is grounded then winds and broken or non-existent rudders mean little.  And I don’t mean “grounded” in the negative sense of that word i.e. broken and stuck.  I mean “grounded” in the sense that we know what we believe and what we stand for.  “Grounded” in the sense that we are firm in where we are.  “Grounded” in the sense of the man who built his house upon the rock and not upon the sand.

Matthew 7:24-27

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

We may be in the process of collectively forsaking our Christian faith in this country. That does not mean that Believers need to pack it in.  But if you are not grounded in Jesus, you might as well.  Read the text above.  The rain is coming and the wind is blowing… what will become of you and your family?  Are you grounded or are you a rudderless ship?  You need to be very honest with yourself… the stakes are too high!!

Blessings.

Criticism

September 12, 2016

Okay so the truth is… I’m having a little “writer’s block.” I can’t seem to put any thoughts to paper… well actually, I don’t have any thoughts… that’s the real problem.  So, be patient with the following.

Do you know what a “projection” is? I don’t mean a picture thrown up onto a wall or screen by a “projecting” device. I mean a “projection” of our thoughts and ideas. Basically, it’s the notion that we instinctively think that other people have the same thoughts and values we do… or the idea that how we respond to something is how other people will also respond. So we “project” our ideas onto others. For example, someone doesn’t see you and they almost hit you as they move from the left lane to the right lane in traffic. How do you react? You might be angry, and you might also think, “Who wouldn’t be angry in that situation?” (That’s the projection.) Well, the truth is, many people might not get angry. They might choose to remember the times they did the same thing to someone else. They might realize it was not intentional. They might just choose to be forgiving. But “anger”…, maybe not. Not everyone is you or like you. Not everyone is me or like me.

All of that to say this. What I am going to write about today may be a “projection” on my part. It may not apply to you at all and you may even find it perplexing and inaccurate. Remember, not everyone is you or like you… and not everyone is me or like me.

Have you ever had one of those occasions where 99 people say good things about you or something you have done but one person is critical? What do you tend to focus on? Maybe you are able to keep it all in perspective and you are grateful for the 99 and you ignore the one. BUT… maybe you don’t. Maybe, just maybe, you find yourself focusing on the one. Maybe, just maybe you find yourself obsessing on it. Maybe, just maybe it keeps you awake at night. Maybe, just maybe…

I mean… what is it about some of us? We always go to a bad place when we are criticized, even when its intended to be positive/instructive criticism by someone that we trust and we know loves us and has the best intentions for us. Yeah, I’m not sure either. I mean it could be… just might be… you know… we maybe don’t feel so good about ourselves at times so when someone points out our flaws… well… You get it?

Here’s the good news (sort of)… not one of us is without flaws. NOT ONE! Every one reading this and the one writing this have areas in their lives where they are broken, defective, impaired, defeated… You know what I mean, don’t you; those areas that someone would access if they really wanted to hurt you. There may be the rare exceptions of those who don’t know what I’m talking about… Um… “Pride goeth before a fall” and all that…

The truth is… Satan knows your weaknesses as well as you do. Occasionally, Ellen will remind me that I am under “spiritual attack.” It’s hard to see when you are in the midst of a battle, but Satan desires to destroy all that God holds dear. You are part of that! It’s hard to keep in perspective that the Evil One uses people and circumstances to cause us pain and disillusionment. Do you believe that? If not then you likely cannot battle it. One needs to identify the enemy before effectively neutralizing it.

I will say that there is something comforting about the notion that I have people in this world who love me… no matter how lousy I can be at times. No matter what “the one out of 100” says. They care about me even though I have glaring weaknesses. One of them has chosen to stay married to me for 41 years. Four others carry my genes… and they still like me… most of the time anyway. Go figure.

Years ago I read a book entitled “Well Intentioned Dragons.” It was intended to address issues in churches, but the principles apply to many areas in life.  The short of it is this, in the church there are people who have good intentions…, they just happen to leave a wake of destruction behind them.  Sadly, they are the last to see the chaos they create in people’s lives.  Maybe you have a dragon in your life.  It might be someone who has good intentions, but they always bring you down.  It might be someone who is being used by Satan to tear you apart.  Years ago I remember a woman telling me about “destructive compliments” that came from her mom.  On one occasion, her mother said, “I like your hair that way… it doesn’t make you look so fat.”  Way to go mom!  You just breathed a fire ball at your daughter.

Maybe, just maybe someone reading this right now is under attack. Someone or something has you questioning yourself, your worth, and whether anyone on the planet does or should care about you.  Maybe you are seriously questioning your faith and whether God or Jesus exists.  Does that describe you?  If so, pray that God will protect you from the Evil One.  Cry out to Jesus.  I mean that… get by yourself and cry out.  Then find a friend…  Don’t deal with these things alone.  If you do you will likely lose.

I hope you find comfort in these words found in 1 John 3:1-3

3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Blessings.