Wednesday, March 22, 2023

 NOT A DRILL BUT A CALL TO ACTION:  This is a note I wrote to myself in April of 2022. I post it today to revive this blog site as a place for spiritual reflection, practical service to Christ Jesus, and to be an outlet for my responses to that Still Small Voice that prompts me. 


…And the rest of the culture will either follow or retaliate.


     I have been slow to respond. Slow to get upset, slow to accept what my eyes have observed, and my ears have heard. But it is no longer the case that I will go along with what many churches are going along with. Some background is in order. 

     I have been reading and listening to the arguments on both sides of the COVID event for the last two-plus years. I have mildly kept track of societal trends over the last fifty years, including the years I have come to maturity, made huge life choices, and experienced the consequences of those choices, including personal failures. I have recently watched and considered carefully a very concise graphic- novel type portrayal of themes in the Old Testament books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth,  Samuel, and Kings (Thanks to “The Bible Project” for that!). This portrayal caused me to recognize the parallels between ancient Israel’s downfall and the current state of affairs in the United States (and “the West,” for that matter). 

     That downfall ensued as the people of Israel followed the surrounding nation’s evil practices of immorality, particularly sexual immorality, and worship – namely child sacrifice. The arrogance that arose within the leadership, then the common people, produced a hardness of heart that increased their already inbred stubbornness. So much so that prophets arose to call out the evil, to pray that God would "circumcise their hearts," or replace hearts of stone and give them a heart of flesh – one that would become sensitive to the calling of God to be a different people, one that would reflect God’s goodness and his justice.

     In the Old Testament Israel was told to drive out the Canaanites from the land because of their egregious sin. Sin which ultimately Israel actually adopted and built upon it. Their sin culminated with their eventual capture and being dragged into Assyrian and Babylonian exile. The northern kingdoms never recovered their identity. The southern kingdom barely hung on out of the sheer will of God who left a remnant to return out of a promise to King David. Babylon and Assyria both disintegrated from the same cultural collapse into vile dissipation and sin.

     I believe America has followed the downfall of these biblical cultures, as have many cultures in history, and is headed for certain disaster. (See Rabbi Jonathan Cahn's book, Return of the Gods) It may even be too late for the repentance of large portions of the population to make a difference. But I am hopeful, that we Christians understand the times and make changes to our attitudes, and behaviors, and become true “lights in the darkness.” 

     The 1960s ushered in a period of loosening of moral values in America. That cultural revolution eased us toward a watering down of social pluralism and changed the way people related to each other. It also changed the way people deal with power and with economics. Slowly, over the last sixty years, sexuality has moved from the bedroom to the mainstream of public life. Sexual liberation meant not only feminism’s agenda, or pornography’s existence, but instead being highlighted as essential learning in middle schools.

     In this previous decade, the publicity of same-sex arrangements and proponents of gender fluidity has been given center stage in the media, Hollywood, and political referendums. In 2017 the United States Supreme Court upheld that the definition of "marriage" will include same-sex partnerships. Public school districts give way to trans rights - with threats of legal retaliation for anyone who dissents, promote hormone therapy and instructional practices promoting sexuality to be the number one concern, even topping racial equity – which is another topic altogether. Never mind the pursuit of academic excellence or professional grade skill levels. Never mind the common courtesy of district leaders representing their community’s values in their policies.

     In 1972 the United States Supreme Court allowed abortion to move forward out of the shadows and into the mainstream of public life. From that time until now life’s value has slowly eroded in the eyes of many. In recent days it has become known to what extent the "abortion industry" has taken the lives of children and the extreme actions that are being hidden from public view but are being taken for the sake of profit. Children are being “sacrificed” now and not just metaphorically. There have been child sacrifices in esoteric satanic rituals throughout this country over the years, no doubt. But to discover the economic benefits being had by those involved in the partial-birth and post-birth ending of life brings this heinous practice to a whole new level. Not to mention Mexican cartels leaving children to die in the desert or killing them outright so as not to lose profit, due to the repulsive disinterest in our US border by our officials.

     I have witnessed congregations led by sincere pastors and teachers who seem to be unaware of the implications, importance, and impending restrictions brought on in response to COVID in the United States. There is a growing number of church officials who continue to go along with governmental mandates and health official announcements. I wonder whether these leaders ever dug deeper into the actual data or thought about interpreting the Scriptures with a view to the church’s role in society.

     The institutions we have grown to accept as working on our behalf were co-opted, and shown to be complicit in causing harm by withholding accurate information as well as repressing negative outcomes of publicly promoted methods of treatment (This fact is becoming more apparent in 2023).  Is this not an example of a time for church officials to raise questions and call on the best and brightest among us to investigate and help the church as a whole respond appropriately and with critical precision?

     There is even more evidence that again, profit and ransom have been involved in this "cover-up." For example, how can the CDC offer unbiased data publicly when a large portion of its financial resources come from large pharmaceutical companies? CDC data that matters is available, it’s just found buried within a mound of internet pages and in minuscule fashion. I know. I’ve hunted for the actual numbers of deaths in 2020 from covid, as opposed to with covid. YOU try and find it. Those numbers are just not apparent, they are inferential. And only recently has the CDC admitted the reporting was inaccurate and thus it really is difficult to ascertain.

I believe in the "church militant.” That’s a theological reference to being out in the world, but not OF the world. That’s a reference to its role in calling the nations to justice and righteousness. It’s a referendum for church leaders to rethink their posture toward civic leadership and the people in their communities. If the church leadership won’t speak up, won’t engage with government officials to challenge their thinking, policy decisions, and consequent governing action, don’t expect people in the pews to be anything but confused as they begin to witness the contradictory nature of current practices. 

Some will mindlessly comply, hoping that things will just go back to ‘normal,’ without too much chaos. However, we’ve been participating in this fiasco long enough to witness that much will NOT be ‘back to normal’ on its own. Too much greed and influence is at stake. Someone has to stand and recognize this for what it is – the downfall of a country built on integrity, character, and a reflection of divine will, a potentially hostile takeover of our communities by ultimately evil influences.

     I will NOT, for example, go along with pronouncements by government officials that masks are an important part of safety for a community. It has been demonstrated on many levels that masking – particularly of children is both detrimental to health as well as psychological development. I will NOT comply with politicians who attempt to intervene in personal health matters. 

     Mandating injections or masks or lockdowns for health reasons is not the government’s domain. It is the place of government officials to expose and prevent the harmful effects of proposals, policies, and practices, on behalf of those who elect them to office – on behalf of the governed. Why then aren’t more officials investigating the damaging effects of the current COVID injections, but instead are promoting them among children, the population least likely to be harmed by the virus itself. Look at the data, if you can find it.

     There is a lot of disingenuous rhetoric going on in places of power and influence. To voice dissent is the right of a free society. Challenging the thinking and narrative being publicly promoted using established data and ethical treatment of information is the essence of healthy debate. Once upon a time that practice was found on university campuses. Now I question that assumption, given their complicit requirement for students to be injected before being allowed to participate in university life. 

     It is the right of individuals and of families to determine personal health practices. The Hippocratic oath constrains health professionals to ‘do no harm.’ WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT? Instead, there is a wide swath of health ‘industry’ participants who simply comply, go along with, and disseminate inaccurate information or worse, endorse or engage in potentially harmful practices. Is there an economic advantage to that? It is often uttered, “follow the money.” Is this an instance of that unfortunate motivation?

It is the place of government to ensure communities have the wherewithal to make good decisions by providing the freest exchange of ideas and information on a complete scale. Again, it is clear in many instances of late that money plays a huge factor in decision-making and policy enforcement. Yet enforcement is supposed to depend upon the consent of the governed. That is not far from a biblically based idea. That is a fundamental assertion in the American experiment. And money or personal enrichment should not be a higher priority than public trust. 

     I believe God is good, God is just, and God responds to humility and repentance – from anyone, but especially from those who claim to be his children. Currently, we are in a perilous time – a valley of decision, here in the United States. If we as God’s people do not continue to WAKE UP, we will see something never imagined in our lifetime. I am writing this to add my voice to the rising tide of discontent with the trends arising in America and across the globe.

     The political climate has brought many issues to light. But truthfully, the decline has been steadily happening for many years in and out of the limelight. Sexual immorality and child sacrifice were what I first noticed in the thematic study of the history of Israel. Pagan influence affected ancient Israel’s future. The same can be said for today’s church, unfortunately. Not in every instance but look at the conditions in our society and in our churches, generally.

     Our culture has passively if not actively accepted abortion and is now also embracing the emulation of immoral sexual behavior and its derivations. From rampant adultery and ‘fornication’ considered ‘old fashioned prohibitions’ to trans rights promoting hormone-blocking drugs for children and sexually explicit imagery, literature, and instruction for early childhood education. Our culture has at its foundation become thoroughly pagan in this regard.

    But what of the church? What do we promote and what do we practice? I know it is complicated, but if, “the righteous are bold as a lion,’ how do we speak out and how do we emulate godliness in light of this cultural depravity? Are we turning a blind eye to immoral behavior within our church families? Are we tacitly complicit by not holding up for single adults the virtue of marriage for the sexual experience? Are we adopting the distractions of the culture that shift personal attention away from holiness toward absorption into what the culture defines as uplifting? How many churchgoers cannot be without their cell phones? How many can cite the latest movie but cannot find Ecclesiastes in the Bible? How many put masks on their children when going into a store -or the sanctuary? How many have subjected their family members to covid injections without reading the explicit labeling about the dangers? If there is no difference within the church from outside the church, what impact are we truly having in our community? 

    The mutually assured destruction spoken of by politicians over the last sixty years will not escape affecting the families that attend church. Even if ‘the rapture’ is considered, since it is a legitimate interpretation of Scripture, there is no doubt the church will see a judgment beforehand. I for one, pray that the judgment we are inflicted with is because we challenge the culture toward truth, integrity, righteousness, and real justice, and not because we look no different than outside the Christian community.

     If we as a church body – on a wide scale – truly repent of our complacency and our inability to live like we believe, then perhaps God will delay the coming tribulation another generation or two. It’s not clear if He will relent and restore America. But we can be like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, declaring that, even if God does not deliver us, we will not bow to the cultural idol or to the hand that wields its power. 

“How should we then, live,” the late Francis Schaffer pronounced. I think we should do as Jesus suggested: “Occupy until I return.” In other words, practice godliness in our personal, family, and professional lives (see Second Peter 3:11, 18). Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Journalists - become the "civil prophets" your occupation was meant to be as "the fourth estate," speaking truth to power and challenging officials toward transparency and restoration of the public trust. Pastors - be shepherds who care not only for sheep or who go after lost sheep but be shepherds who protect the flock from the ravenous wolves, from lions like David did. Us regular Christian folk, let us exercise humility in our daily lives, not considering ourselves better than our neighbors, but rather loving them as Jesus described. Practice hospitality, service, and support for those in our community who need our help. Live differently, rejecting the ‘norms’ of culture in favor of the teachings of Jesus. Do we really need to be advertised to death? Do we really need all that our culture throws at us? I wonder what it would be like to reject the cultural trappings and attitudes in favor of a true Jesus-centered community? 

     Let us look forward to His return, but not wait idly. Let us be a "light to the Gentiles," a "voice crying in the wilderness," a ... - You finish the phrase! Be Jesus’ hands, feet, and heart.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Advice from a Bubonic Plague survivor...

A friend of mine posted the following quote on her page. It is from Martin Luther, during the reformation period of European history. I am re-posting it here because I believe this is quality advice for my personal response to the contemporary scene.

Martin Luther’s advice, 
made during the time of the bubonic plague:
I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.1

Martin Luther in a letter to Rev. Dr. John Hess, found in Luther’s Works, Volume 43 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1968), 132.

To see more of my friend's post - check it out here: From <>

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Re-post from July 25, 2015: Dateline -Acadia National Park
A theme dominant this week has little hint of enthusiasm. Actually, sadness characterizes this series of events which I will summarize by retelling the story of my interactions with one individual. 
Over my first weeks of service as a shuttle driver, my shift settled into the morning runs as well as a mid-day run back and forth from apartments in the north to the Pond House in the south. Second run soon became one I looked forward to because I met Josh, with whom it didn't take long to engender a friendship, us both enjoying the gift of gab. As the EDR (Employee Dining Room) cook, he came in midmorning to set up lunch and dinner for the employees. He was chipper at first and we became quick conversationalists since the run held maybe two other younger people, who didn't climb in as quickly as Josh -who took shot-gun - and immediately began to chat. I discovered he was from Minnesota - a welcomed connection. He was living in Whitefish, Montana and had served in Glacier Park a decade ago -another connection. He enjoyed country music, loved to canoe -having stories of the Minnesota Boundary Waters, and when not canoeing, couldn't get enough of the outdoors and wilderness through hiking and camping. He indicated he was a believer; he actually had a degree in Biblical studies and had served in churches in Minnesota in his early 20's. 
So, we had a lot in common which made our rides each morning rich and entertaining. Until early last week. Something happened, I'm not sure what. He was coming to work sullen, erratic, and not his usual 'self.' Earlier he had explained his physical ailments and a condition involving seizures, thus his inability to drive anywhere. Medication typically stabilized things, he said, but it was nevertheless unpredictable. So as he persisted daily to arrive a bit later, a bit more incoherent, I worried that Josh hadn't got his meds right. In talking, he brushed it off as being overtired, saying his meds kept him up at night and he was getting very little sleep. I thought nothing of it, but took note he had increased his smoking, his eyes were dark and his conversation limited to answering when spoken to.
Then Friday last week, he was needing an early ride home from the EDR. I was surprised but accommodated him since I had to return for the mid-day run anyway. Turns out he was sent home. He had alcohol on his breath, and reluctantly he revealed his demise: he was a recovering alcoholic, who had been 'dry' for 5 months before coming to Acadia. But being here among so many who drank, he found himself slipping back into old habits, and was heading to the hospital to spend a weekend in detox. Many times before he had gone through this sequence. Discouraged with himself, he recounted to me self loathing, disappointing his family and friends and the Lord, his inability to control his drinking and his worry that it would affect his job here and ultimately his marriage (- yes he was married to a girl working now in Phoenix, Arizona, where Josh intended to join her after his contract ended here, having made enough money to finance a move.) I dropped him at his apartment where he assured me he would catch the "Island Explorer" shuttle into Bar Harbor and make the 5-minute hike to the hospital. I was wrapped in concern and emotionally laden with the sense to pray for this man.
Praying over the weekend, I hoped to see Josh Monday. Since I had to run the shuttle Sunday morning, I overheard the employees mentioning Josh sleeping in and having Sundays off they weren't worried for him. Surprised that he would be home already from his stay -- I took note of their words and again prayed. Monday, I did not see Josh on the mid-morning run. Tuesday came and Josh again was not on the mid-morning run. I was worried his comment about going to the hospital was fabricated; his alcoholism was taking over his life again. The whole trip I was in concerned silence, not knowing what to pray about, but knowing Josh needed prayer, and possibly more. He did show up for the late run. He stated that his stay in the hospital was 'good,' and they provided him with additional medication, but that it was making him extremely sleepy.

When I dropped him at the EDR he was late in prep - not only because of his drop-off time, but the kitchen was left in shambles from the weekend crew's negligence. It was as though this time he was in over his head concerning his work's requirement. Wednesday morning came and went without Josh -until the late morning run - when he came out -looking completely haggard and asked if I could help him mail some packages - both with a ride to a post office and some cash to pay for the boxes. When I returned to pick him up later that morning, he was nowhere to be found. Again, concern was turning to despair as I contemplated all this meant. The afternoon cooks said he had been fired that morning. 

He came out and got in the van for this mid-day trip to the Pond House, with the boxes. He looked like death warmed over. I delivered the afternoon cooks to their work and asked why he wasn't working today. He said he had been let go due to his seizures and sickness (no mention of alcohol or addiction). So we then headed to the Seal Harbor post office. I paid for his 2 priority mail medium shipments. We got in the van and headed back. I commented on his appearance and asked if he needed anything. He asked for a ride into town and $15 to buy a few groceries and fill a prescription on his insurance plan that wouldn't be much. I hesitated, but in the end, I took him to the grocery store in Bar Harbor. He said he'd ride the Island Explorer back, so I didn't wait for him to return with his groceries and prescription. It was already an hour past my quitting time, and I needed to get back to do my chores at home. "I should have stayed," is what I said to myself the next day, and again on Friday, when I did not see Josh again. His promise to pay me back on payday didn't happen. I am in anguish over a budding friendship that I possibly had let him down through enabling without presence. 

Could my staying to bring him back from town been a key to accountability and an act of friendship that would turn into a healing process? I won't know but am left to wonder. Note to self: when the opportunity arises to risk for friendship - take the risk. It's the godly thing to do, not just the friendly thing to do. Wow. A learning curve with consequences felt by others. THAT is a heavy thought; a bitter pill to swallow -especially at such an age as I am. If I was 20-something taking in this 'lesson,' I might have more life to experience opportunities. No matter, though. I expect I will have more even now - the question remains whether I will act in accordance with my discovery. Hopefully, further posts will provide insight into this journey.

Monday, February 3, 2020

The silent ones

I scooped up one more shovel of snow to finish off the walk before the thought came to me. The first 26 years of life I lived under the sweltering humidity and scorching heat of west-central Florida. Here, 34 years later, I’m actually enjoying the 24 degree, snow-covered setting of upstate New York. I smiled at my realization as I climbed back into the cab of my F250. I’m headed to the next widow’s home to plow out the driveway.

In some ways there is little difference between the two eras.

My brother and I grew up around senior citizens who appreciated us being able to help them with odd jobs. We got a lot of positive vibes from the things we did. Between Boy Scout service projects, church youth car washes, and our lawn business, I got a keen sense of satisfaction from helping others.

I think the clincher came when I was only 12 years old.

Before the first day of Junior High School I was called into the offices for a chat with the Principal and the school counselor. I was scared to death! Was it something I had done already?

Thankfully the reason I was called in was not what I had done, but what I was about to be asked to do. Apparently, I had the same exact schedule as a boy who was legally blind.

The request was simple enough: allow this kid to shadow me throughout the days ahead as school began. We would have lockers next to each other, the same Phys Ed class, the same homeroom, and every class in between. We would walk the same hallways. As a plus, we would be allowed to exit classes early to walk the halls and gain a sense of each day's path.

When the Counselor stated the boy's name, my heart relaxed. I knew this kid!  Ray was in my Boy Scout troop and we had been together for a year already. We met a few days before school started and walked the halls, found our lockers and classrooms. Being prepared in this way at least eliminated one part of our trepidation.

I had little understanding, however, of what this assignment really meant until school actually started.

Administrators were concerned about the logistics. We quickly discovered logistics was the least of our worries. Stigma is the word that comes to mind as I recall those first days. Ray was an outcast from the get-go. Only hours into our first day and it was clear I had a choice to make. Was I going to just go through the motions of assisting him? Or was I going to be what he needed: a friend and advocate?

I really struggled with this role. There were kids I felt I wanted to impress, and being a friend to Ray meant the opposite - or at least I thought so. There were days I had to stick up for him, talk down a group of boys making fun of him, ignore the girls laughing at us as he walked behind me in the crowded hallway like I was his bodyguard. That year was a turning point. My heart softened. There was something about Ray's vulnerability that pulled out the champion in me. I became much more aware of those who live along the margins.

So when I graduated from college and Seminary, my days in church ministry and public education were oriented with compassion toward those who didn't fit in. I think I actually lost a job because I wasn't really interested in promoting a youth culture of popularity. Rather, I sought the outcast to minister to. I learned that doing what is right isn't always popular. And it isn't always profitable. But to stand with them is no less valuable and important.

Someone has to speak for the silent ones.

Friday, January 25, 2019

"Post-Truth" The World We Live In

I read from "The Bible in One Year" by Nicky & Pippa Gumbel today.
I will excerpt a portion of the reading to illustrate the eerie resemblance to what seems to be going on in today's media world, social media, and leadership. . . and perhaps in my own life.

The color-coding, and emphases are mine...

After much discussion, debate, and research, the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year for 2016 was post-truth. It had shown a 2000% increase in usage during the year, spiking during the Brexit and US Presidential debates. In a ‘post-truth’ era, objective facts appear less influential than appeals to emotion. There is a tolerance for dishonest, inaccurate allegations and outright denial of facts. Blatant lies become routine.
But if you buy a car, you want to know the truth about that car. In a relationship, you want to know the truth. We hunger for honesty and truth.
We see in our passages for today that God hates lies and deception. David says, ‘People all lie to their neighbours; their flattering lips speak with deception(Psalm 12:2). Jesus quoted Isaiah, ‘These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me’ (Matthew 15:8). Although Joseph’s brothers had deceived their father about the fate of Joseph (Genesis 37:31–35), they knew in their hearts that they could not deceive God: ‘Surely we are being punished because of our brother’ (42:21).
God wants you to be honest with him. He likes candour. He wants to hear what is on your heart today.

See Psalm 12:1-8

-------------- -

Francis Schaffer's Title comes immediately to mind - "How Should We Then Live?"

Given our current state of affairs in our news media, our social media, and in our daily interactions, how SHOULD we live??  

My hunch is people yearn for truthful lives and trustworthy relationships. When our closest connections seem to be dishonest, we shy away and isolate ourselves. The bumper sticker, "Trust No One" belies the hurt and the history of the one behind the wheel. Disappointment creates mistrust ... and hardened hearts. 

Today, I am going to ponder a means of breaking through the mistrust, the emotion-laden post-truth culture, to communicate on a reliable level in words, deeds, and plans. 

Won't you join me?!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

What's in a Name?

How about that title, "metalogos?"

Meta -- beyond, above, after;
Logos -- word, words;

Here are some sentences from the ancient but eerily up-to-date text known in our culture as the Bible, which serve as a platform for my thoughts.

John 5:39
"You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,..."  ~Jesus of Nazareth

Job 12:7-10
"But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind."  (New International Version)

James 1:5-8
 "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do."  (New Living Translation)

Psalm 19:14
 "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, Oh, Lord."

Metalogos --  Meditations, responses, and insights
     Based on my reading of the Bible, what thoughts, feelings, and actions result? In particular, what does the reading or listening prompt in my behavior, attitude, and demeanor? These notions are what I hope to journal about. And in addition, I pray for strength to carry out what God is intending for me to understand and accomplish.           
                                                                -- Jim