Tag Archives: Random thoughts

9 things on grieving

Some grief you carry in community. The worst grief you carry alone.

You grieve the relationship that should have been. The missing people in your life that you can’t talk about. The loved ones that were taken away because of great evil. The loved ones taken away by death, illness or broken relationship.

You grieve the loss of community and the things that you know that no one would believe even if you told them. You grieve the fear and the terror and the unfulfilled longing to be known and the terror of rejection and pain if you are known.

You grieve not being able to tell anyone of what is really going on because you still are grieving from the fallout of the last time you spoke.

You grieve the damage that unimaginable evil can do that you can’t speak out loud because you would sound like a paranoid nut job if you did. You grieve the appearance of evil that sunk into your soul and took away your safe place to stand that you can’t tell anyone because the fear of rejection is greater than your desire to be known. So you carry it alone. There is a heaviness attached to seeing the worst side of humanity.

You grieve the innocence that you lost; the child you never were. You grieve lost health, lost opportunities, lost youth, lost children, lost friendships, lost gardens, lost fellowship.

You grieve the loss of the place where you thought you stood, when the ground finally shakes and everything falls and nothing is left except Christ and His Cross.

And you grieve for that little boy that you once were, the one that you hate, the one that fills you with disgust and shame –  and the hardest thing to do is to grieve for him and to realize that maybe he was just trying to do the best he knew how and maybe you should give him a break because no one else would …

And you grieve the life that you thought you would have but the curse on the world got in the way, and you realize that “godliness with contentment is great gain” is the hardest concept to embrace when your soul is screaming – and then, you bow your head and worship. “Yet not my will, but thine be done.” I know. I truly know that the day will come when all of these tears will be washed away. How I long for that day.

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9 things (August 1)

Today is my youngest daughter’s 24th birthday. A few years back, we almost lost her, so today there is much to celebrate. We had a great day.

I found out today that it is illegal to name your child “Robocop” in Mexico. I don’t have any opinion about that. I am going to practice not having opinions about more things. I find the lack of opinions refreshing sometimes.

A few years back, there were a lot of on-line voices stridently pushing me to get worked up over net-neutrality. I forget if I was to be for it or against it, but I apologized profusely and begged off at the time, stating that I had my plate full with things to get worked up over but as soon as I clear some of those things up, I would throw a right fit – for or against. I don’t remember which. At any rate, I have some time now, but I forgot what I’m supposed to do. So I threw some water on a stray cat.

I will, however, always get worked up over those false shepherds who continually seek to add human merit to our salvation. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith. It is impossible to be united to Christ without bringing fruits of thanksgiving, but that adds nothing to our standing before God.

I will also always get worked up by those who continually stir up discord in the church over their opinions. Reviling, threats, contemptuous speech and pride are as hateful to God as any “sin” you might be railing against.

My grandson is in my Sunday School class. he can’t remember the name “Esau”, but he remembers that his name (and his nickname) means “Red Hair”. So he calls him Red Hair. It’s fabulous. I ask, “How did Jacob steal the blessing?” And he says, “He pretended to be Red Hair”. That makes me quite happy.

Solomon judged between two harlots. One of them would rather destroy the baby than admit she was wrong. Solomon saw through her. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had the same wisdom. There are those who would destroy souls, churches, and even countries rather than admit that they might be wrong.

When you keep company with those who mock, scoff, and scornfully use those who are “not approved,” you will find yourself caught up in wickedness and eventually unable to extricate yourself. Remember Psalm 1. There is a difference between life and chaff.

Jesus told us that his disciples would be known by their love. No matter how much you try to twist the meaning of “love” to mean “telling people what is wrong with them”, they are not the same concepts. One is of the Holy Spirit. The other is the spirit of the Accuser. The Accuser of the Brethren has been cast out of heaven. Do not be keen to take his place.

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9 things (June 11, 2022)

Marriage is a covenant, which means that it can be broken. Vows were taken. We vowed to love, cherish, cleave to, forsake all others, honor…when those vows are continually broken without repentance, divorce might be in order. The innocent party is free to make her (his) own decision without further control and abuse from outside parties.

I’ve been listening to Time for Three lately. A truly wonderful group. “Joy” makes my heart happy.

If a covenant by definition cannot be broken, then Adam would not have died and the death of Jesus would not have been necessary. The broken covenant is the tapestry on which the story of redemption is painted.

In 1 Peter 3:1, the apostle is giving practical advice to husbands and wives in the context of the spread of the gospel to Jews and Greeks alike. When you have thousands of converts a day, questions like “Do I get a divorce from my pagan husband?” abound. To apply that counsel to abusive or harsh husbands in the 21st century is like going to a chiropractor for a brain tumor. We need wisdom, people.

Life with fibromyalgia: “Oh! That one is new! I wonder if I have contracted a deadly disease or if it is just a fibro-flare?”

Those of you on Twitter who make it a practice to revile and mock women – you will someday stand before God with all of your Tweets open and you will have to explain to the Lion of Judah why you did not fear to speak about His co-heirs like you have.

If the salt has lost its saltiness, what will you salt it with? When the church sounds just like Fox News, is it distinguishable as the Bride of Christ anymore?

The sad part to me is that we as the church have forgotten how to think. We’ve become soundbites and caricatures of ourselves. Anyone who forces us to think through our positions is considered an enemy to be destroyed.

When the great commission is framed as a “culture war”, then it must be won by the weapons of the flesh by any means necessary. Disagreements cannot be tolerated. Enemies must be destroyed. Lying, harshness, reviling and slander are all necessary for the greater good. This has nothing to do with Christ.

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9 things (May 23)

1. Jesus said, “You shall know them by their fruits.” And yet, so many organizations that go by the name “church” continually ignore, cover up, and deny the fruits, embracing the wolf. I think it is time to name these organizations for what they are. If “the least of these” are not safe inside your walls, you are not a church, no matter how your PR firm spins it.

2. When one is cast out of a wolf-embracing organization, or has fled for their own safety, they have not left the church. They simply saw the fruits and realized that what they were in was not a church.

3. The SBC hasn’t been a church for a long, long time. Ever, really. An organization founded for the purpose of keeping slaves under control might say some good things from time to time, but so does the devil. You can’t tell a church by what is plastered on their website or printed in their bulletins. You will know them by their fruits.

4. I pray that the people of God who are still in bondage in the SBC will be able to flee and find safety.

5. I also pray that we all would see the warning signs before the candlestick is removed. If our “ministry” is more concerned about culture than the gospel; if our “ministry” is more concerned about keeping women in their place; if our “ministry” is based on money, power, numbers, and privilege; NOW is the time to repent and return to our former love.

6. Is anyone else extremely disturbed that so-called Christian leaders are denouncing winsomeness and kindness because of the “hostility” of the culture?? There are so many problems with this I don’t even know what to say. The outright exchange of the ethics taught by Jesus (and all of scripture) for the ethics of Fox News should shake us to the core. But it does expose the god that so many serve.

7. Placing one’s trust in strength or riches will always lead to oppression and robbery (Psalm 62). You will know them by their fruits. If there is oppression or robbery, there is no Biblical faith.

8. We are all sinners. If a church is doing its job, we will be made uncomfortable by our sins and urged to find cleansing and healing in Christ. But if your person, your dignity, your body, your worth and your voice are not safeguarded and protected, then you are not in a church.

9. Everyone is continually being catechized. It is the nature of being human. If you are being catechized by porn, you will not have a healthy view of relationships and sexuality. If you are being catechized by the media (whether right or left wing) you will make decisions based on fear. If you are being catechized by right wing nationalism, you will not understand Christianity and will find yourself worshiping another god. We become like the idols we serve (Psalm 115).

Read the Psalms.

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9 things (May 13)

Lots of celebrity pastors express concern (condemnation) for so many ex-evangelicals who are “deconstructing.” Pause. New subject. Josh Duggar’s pastor, a leading evangelical voice for a leading evangelical family, is begging the judge to allow Josh to return to his children. Let that sink in a little. There might be a connection.

For 40 years now, since the “moral majority” became a thing, the leading voices in evangelicalism have united for “traditional family values”. The result is that Anna Duggar does not believe that she has biblical grounds for divorce and that her children need a father like Josh. This makes me brutally sad. Perhaps Christians should unite over good exegesis, mercy for the oppressed, and being a voice for the voiceless.

Every time I think about writing something, I wonder if there is even a point. Then I remember that the battle isn’t against flesh and blood, but against demonic spirits in high places. So I breathe. Look to Christ. And say what has to be said, even if no one listens.

The most influential religion in America is no longer “moral therapeutic deism”, in my opinion. It has given way to Trumpism and “Christian” nationalism. These are the ugly stepchildren of Dominionism, the moral majority, and revivalism. This false religion, incidentally, grows from the same soil that bred Josh Duggar, just as the Bible said it would. But it has nothing to do with Christianity.

To Anna Duggar: You can do better.

The Bible says that we are “complete in Christ” (Col. 2:10). If this is the inerrant word of God, then it is true. If it is true, then your salvation does not depend upon your emotions, your mood, your works, your doubts, your fears, your anxieties, your questions. Flee to Christ. In Him, you have everything that you need for life and salvation.

Really. Everything. Please turn off the celebrity preachers telling you otherwise (Yes, I’m looking at John Piper). You have everything. This is the root of all joy, all love, all peace – and when you have love and joy and peace, everything else follows from there. In other words, you have life from Christ, for he paid it all.

We should normalize marking ourselves safe from celebrity preachers. There is money to be made and power to be wielded by convincing people that Christ is not enough. When Jesus is known, the religious experts of every age lose their power. This is the heart of persecution.

Go and listen to the preachers that say, “He must increase. I must decrease”. There are a few of them out there. They generally have tiny churches and wear clothes from Target and Penney’s, but they are at peace. They would also love to show you how to have peace with God.

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9 things (May 6)

1. Does anyone remember Beetle Bailey (the comic strip). I’m thinking specifically about the drawing of Beetle after Sarge gets done with him, crumpled into a heap on the floor. Anyway, some days that is exactly what fibromyalgia feels like. Today, for example.

2. When I was younger, memorization was never a problem. When I was about 8, I was playing a piece by Beethoven for a recital and I had the music out and ready. I was so nervous I forgot to take the music off the top of the piano, but I didn’t realize it until I was finished. Memory was so easy for me that my sight reading ability suffered tremendously. But now I’m old. Memory is harder now.

3. But I’m still doing it! I started plowing my way through Mendelssohn’s “Songs without Words” and loving every minute of it. It just takes me longer than it used to. The puzzles of great music are endlessly fascinating and bring peace and calm.

4. I wonder if we are thinking about holiness all wrong. We always think of it as basically synonymous with righteousness. But what if holiness is more related to being clean, clothed, beautiful, accepted, and welcomed in God’s presence? What if the Song of Songs was a book about holiness and its beauty? Of course, that involves righteousness, but it is so much grander, isn’t it?

5. The question I dread whenever I leave the house is this one: “So, what are you up to today? Any plans for the weekend?” When did they start doing this? Why should I tell a stranger my plans? Are they just a government or church spy making sure I’m complying with acceptable social mores? When did they add all of this pressure to every shopping trip?

6. Here’s a fact of dubious interest. If there is a movie that is considered “iconic” or “culture defining”, chances are quite high that I haven’t seen it.

7. Yesterday, the couple behind me at the line at the grocery store were looking at the gigantic display of M&M candies. I overheard the woman say, “No. No. I don’t do outside the box with M&Ms.” I felt that deeply. The same with potato chips, oreos, and Ice Cream. OK. Food. All food. Why does everything have to be extreme?

8. Related to number 7, the best coffee is the one that can be ordered with the fewest syllables. “I’ll have a coffee, please.” Few things were more satisfying than sitting at a Denny’s in the 90s with coffee and a cigarette.

9. One can be concerned about the consequences of overturning Roe v. Wade and believe that abortion is murder at the same time. Perhaps we should talk to each other instead of hurling anathemas.

That’s all for today. Carry on. Let this moment pass and don’t let worry cloud your hearts and minds.

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9 things for November 10

I’m teaching piano to the grandkids. Last week, I gave one an assignment to practice. We worked on it, and he was ready. Today, he came to the piano, sat down. Looked at the music. Looked at the keyboard and said, “Am I supposed to press the keys?” This doesn’t bode well.

If your theology requires that you be served, whether at home or anywhere else, it isn’t of Christ. He didn’t come to be served, but to serve. He calls us to imitate him specifically in that area. It isn’t about authority and power. It’s about service and love. Put on the apron. Quit subjecting others to your whims.

The occupation of mocking others for being “stupid” is not something I can get behind. I used to join in easily, but then I was convicted. People make mistakes. People have different gifts. People sometimes don’t see what others see as obvious. Calling another “stupid” merely exposes one’s own pride and desperation.

Rahab’s father, mother and entire family were brought into her house, under her “umbrella of protection” and were saved because of her faith. God delights in turning the norms of a patriarchal society on its head. This merits some mulling over. He didn’t tell her to go to her father’s house. He told her father to go to her house.

The scripture teaches that riches and poverty do not come by chance, but by the hand of our heavenly Father. We have no idea what drives some into poverty while some prosper. Riches are a matter of “dumb luck” more often than not. Can we honestly say that the world’s richest people are smarter and harder working than others? Or were they rather “at the right place at the right time”.

I don’t say this out of envy, for I have no desire to be wealthy. It is not my goal. I say this so that we will stop considering wealth as the measure of a person. Success on earth and success with God are entirely different things.

Because, as I said, God delights in turning the norms of the patriarchy upside down. He delights in those who fear him, not those who know how to squeeze a buck or make fortunes. Will he who made the gold and diamonds be impressed with the one who knows how to collect them?

The album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” has many delights and deserves it’s place as one of the greatest. I am awestruck every time I hear “I’ve Seen That Movie Too.”

Be thankful in prosperity and don’t forget to share. Be patient in adversity and don’t forget to rejoice that your name is written in heaven. And for what is future, have good confidence in your heavenly father, that nothing can remove you from his almighty hand.

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9 things (Oct.16)

All of scripture points to Christ. Even “getting wisdom”, which is the theme of Proverbs, is about coming to Christ, the wisdom of God. The major problem with the church today is that they view Scripture as a “how to” manual, rather than the revelation of Jesus Christ.

If you view the book of Proverbs as an owners manual on successful living, you will miss everything there.

Alexa misheard me and said, “Now playing – music by Britney Spears”. My wife shouted NO!! Then she muttered, “I’m glad she’s free and all, but I still don’t want to hear her.”

The Bible isn’t about sex, kids, marriage, successful finances, health, prosperity, eating, drinking, working, economics, art, how you smell, what you wear – it is about Jesus. Find him, and you will live. Trust in your own ability to “do this, and live” and you will die. When you find Jesus, everything else flows from there.

Paul Washer said that when you become a believer you no longer dress or smell like the world. I have no idea what that means.

Modesty, in the scripture, means not dressing to show off your status or to shame those who are different than you. Not everyone can afford to stay home and homeschool; not everyone can afford a Sunday dress; not everyone can afford a suit and tie. Not everyone has a spouse or kids or votes republican or has money in the bank. Not everyone can live without ever getting public assistance. Not everyone has 10 dollars to spend on the secret Christmas gift exchange. But everyone can find freedom from shame in Christ and should be able to find it in the church. This is what “modesty” means. Don’t dress or act in such a way that would bring shame on your neighbors.

I spent the week nursing my wife back to health. She had surgery on Monday. Because of her Ehlers Danlos, everything take a lot longer to heal than it would on someone else. I starting thinking that everyone’s growth rate, healing rate, grieving rate, learning rate, “getting over things” rate is different and also comes from the Lord. I’m so thankful that he remembers our frailty and never shames us for being slow. Only the hirelings beat the sheep when they lag behind.

If you ever get a chance to hear Anna Netrebko sing, you should take it.

Sometimes progress in sanctification is spending an hour trying to get your printer to work after an update without once calling for fire and brimstone on the head of Bill Gates, or Hewlett and Packard. Success sometimes means measuring in baby steps.

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Nine Things (October 9)

I read recently that almost all canned pumpkin is actually butternut squash. They are so genetically similar that the FDA considers them the same. But the squash generally has more flavor and better texture.

About ten years ago, my wife and I were sitting outside in a shopping center and drinking coffee. Two teenaged boys walked by. One said, “I’m not going to keep my money in the freezer anymore. I just end up stabbing it.” I still don’t have a context to put that in.

Pumpkin spice contains no pumpkin. Or butternut squash.

Diane Langberg’s teaching on power and vulnerability is tremendous. Her statement “power, if it is to be Christlike, must be used to bless others” is one to meditate on for a long time.

Tomorrow’s sermon is on Zechariah 6. While I was thinking on it, it struck me: They put the crown on Joshua’s head. And then they took it off, because it belongs to another – the Branch. The crown isn’t yours. But you partake in that anointing to the extent that you are being conformed to Christ…You’ll need to hear the sermon.

The crown was put in the temple as a memorial – to point forward to the Branch. If we are the temple of the Lord, our task is always to point to Another.

Years ago, I played the piano at an event of some sort. A woman came up to me and said, “I could listen to you play all day.” Mostpeople would say “Thank you.” That, of course, isn’t me. What I said was “But I can’t play all day.”

Rachmaninoff wanted to meet Stravinsky, but didn’t know how to go about it. Having heard that Stravinsky liked honey, Rach showed up at his house late at night with a jar of honey and no explanation. This is a kind of awkward that resonates deeply with me.

Fried chicken came first. Then someone decided to fry steak the same way that one fried chicken, and the Chicken Fried Steak was born. Then someone decided to fry chicken the way that steak fried like chicken is fried and they called it “Chicken fried chicken.” At some point it should probably stop. It’s just getting silly.

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9 things

1. To the extent that men coerce their wives to submit, either by threats or promises of reward, to that extent their marriage is NOT a picture of Christ and his church.

2. Our submission to Christ as Christians is from a willing heart of love.

3. When I was growing up, my mother prepared a dish from ground beef, tomato sauce, macaroni, cans of corn…and then she dumped in whatever leftovers she had in the fridge. She called it “goulash”. I just found out that my friend’s mother did the exact same thing. I was an adult before I learned that goulash was actually a real dish with a real recipe.

4. My daughter has numbers that she favors. “Favors” is the wrong word, because it is beyond that. She cannot eat 10 grapes. She cannot eat 11 grapes. She CAN eat 9 grapes. And so on with any food that can be numbered. Thus, “9 things…”

5. Obedience that comes from a servile heart of fear is not acceptable to God. The fact that is acceptable to many who profess Christ continues to astound me. How can a man desire a wife who is afraid of him?

6. When a partner uses sexual favors to reward good behavior or withholds them to punish bad behavior, the sex life will always suffer. Sex that is exchanged for goods if the heart of harlotry, not Biblical sexuality.

7. Yesterday, I finished “The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell” by Robert Dugoni. It is one of the best novels I’ve read this year. I’m not sure about the ending, though…I have to mull that one over…

8. I have been thinking about the concept of “Christian Culture.” I guess that I don’t know what that means and who gets to enforce it. Some proclaim the 19th century south as the pinnacle of Christian Culture.  I guess it would depend on which side of the whip one was on…

9. Proper social behavior enforced by the elite is not Christianity. Taliban, maybe. But not Christ.

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