The Threshing Floor

You know how when some little speck that was floating around or, perhaps, the result of some rogue particle from something your were doing gets in your eye, it’s either irritating or killing? It suddenly it takes all of your attention whether or not you have time for it. Despite the pain and distraction, all of your attention is sometimes a necessary thing, possibly even a very good thing.

As we celebrate freedom this 4th of July, there will be picnics and flags, parades and fireworks. We can celebrate because others sacrificed. Through the heroic efforts of our American forefathers, our country liberated itself from the rule of King George III and founded a nation with representation of its citizenry in government. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor. I wonder if anyone’s hand was shaking when he signed that declaration? Those men, those women, those families, paid a steep price; a cost we would do well to consider.

They stood firm for what was right and true. Truth? Now there’s something that seems a bit slippery these days. The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence states, 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. -That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Note those rights don’t come from government, they come from God. Government simply administers them. (So, as an aside here, things justly termed “entitlements” such as health care or even education are helpful and good to have, but to call them “rights” denigrates the true meaning of the word.)

Our nation has been on a journey for awhile now, traveling a twisting road of right and wrong, true and false. Words like justice, fair, right, tolerance, and even love have undergone a turn in the spin cycle. They’ve become twisted, ragged, and unrecognizable.

And, my fellow citizens, this nation under God finds itself at a well-worn place. We’re on the threshing floor where the grain is separated from the husks and chaff, truth from lies, if you will. Winnowing forks are tossing the mixture into the air where the chaff is blown away leaving only what is usable and good. I hope we get a little bit of something in our eye, even if it causes distraction or pain, and I hope that chaff in our eye draws our attention to the truth. I hope you and I are left on the floor rather than being swept away by the wind.

In 1861, Julia Ward Howe, after visiting a camp of the Union Army, wrote a poem. It was published in 1862. The Battle Hymn of the Republic says, in part: He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored and He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat.

This Independence Day I’ll eat barbecue, display the Stars and Stripes, and celebrate along with everyone else. But I’ll also be thinking: It’s great here on the threshing floor! Look! There goes another long-held assumption into the wind! Why, yes. I do see how some were blinded by this person or by that assertion; but things are clearing up now. The chaff won’t be here forever.

Stand firm for what is right and true. You’re in good company. And look up. You never know what you’ll see next.

Declaration of Independence; Luke 3:17, Hosea 13:3; The Battle Hymn of the Republic by Julia Ward Howe, public domain; Image: Wikimedia commons; public domain 800px-Era_agrícola-(threshing_floor)

Where’s Melania Trump When You Need Her?

Images of Melania Trump have traipsed through my mind lately, along with the wish I could call her, like the besties we are, and chat for awhile. I need some fashion advice, and I doubt I’m the only one.

I’m just a mother of the engaged, but soon I will be a mother of the bride, and I have been looking for a dress. I thought I’d pass along my own (very) little advice – not to brides nor grooms, not about ceremonies nor decorations; no, nothing nearly as important or interesting; but about shopping for a mother of the bride dress.

You don’t think you need advice? Listen, I’ve discovered an entirely here-to-fore invisible population of desperate mothers of the bride/groom out there; and – to the woman – they’re willing to share their opinions, asked or not. These women who, aside from contracting a helpfully violent case of dysentery and losing 15 pounds in a week, are simply hoping to find something that will make them look like they haven’t given birth x number of times and still have the metabolism of an 18 year old. Or 30 year old. Or 40 year old.

“That looks good,” said a helpful voice where I was trying on a few dresses last week.

“I liked the last one better,” said another.

I swiveled my head. “Which last one?”

“The navy.”

Oh yes, they’re out there. One mother explained the wedding of her son was going to be casual.

“I’ve waited all these years and – casual. What am I supposed to wear?”

I shook my head sympathetically.

I was flipping through a rack at another store and looked up to someone inquiring, “Mother of the bride?”

I nodded. “I’m exhausted.”

The daughter pointed to her mother and nodded back. The mother wore sweat pants, had her hair pulled back in a ponytail, and looked like she was badly in need of a long nap.

And online? Are you kidding me? First of all, who knows how something will fit; probably not like it does on the dear soul in the picture. Secondly, how do you even know if the site is legit or is a trap set for desperate women of a certain age? Thirdly, two words: shipping fees. Make that five words: return shipping fees.

Let me tell you about online shopping. If you type in the search word ‘dress – mother of the bride’ (mob, for short – I won’t take the bait, no I won’t), you will see either dresses with the obligatory jacket or low cut gowns that look like they just got back from the Oscars. When you’re at a point where cleavage is actually a thing, low cut isn’t as exciting as you might imagine. I appreciate the jacket idea. After all, sleeves are nice for someone (I’m sorry to say it, but that includes nearly all of us) whose arms resemble a chicken’s wattle. Some of the designers seem to know this; others haven’t a clue, or run with a crowd that spends time every day at the gym, or are under the illusion that the customer really does look like the 20 year old model.

I hate to break it to you, but I don’t think Melania will be available for wardrobe consultations any time soon. You’re stuck with me. Here’s some of what I’ve learned along with a little advice. Take it or leave it:

  1. Go to some stores and try things on even if they’re not what you want. You can get an idea of how a designer (*I use the term loosely – in my world JC Penney is a designer) sizes things. You’ll also get an idea of what you prefer.
  2. You will learn to speak designer whether you want to or not. Not Dolce and Gabbana, mind you, but you will find out who the usuals are. Addrianna Papell’s dresses (who, according to Martha Stewart are the holy grail of bridal party wear) feel heavier (sequins and beads will do that) than Komarov. I loved the Komarov I tried on. It was lightweight and looked washable and like what a normal person might wear. Until I saw the price tag. Alex Evenings claims to offer the perfect fit for real shapes with materials that stretch. Gee, I wonder who they’re talking to.
  3. Take a look around discount and consignment stores, including Ebay. Pat yourself on the back for trying to save money.
  4. Look online for the designers * you like, and find something that’s actually closer to what you want than what the stores had.
  5. Do not order it.
  6. Type in the search word ‘evening gown’.
  7.  You’ll find something that might more closely resemble what you were looking for in the first place, won’t be one of the few mob patterns offered in a variety of colors, and it will cost less.
  8. Go ahead and eat the cookie. No one’s going to be looking at you anyway.

Living In Our Time

None of us is given the choice of the time in which we live. We might, depending on our mobility, decide which province or state or neighborhood to live in. Some of us, with enough freedom and cash, are even able to determine in which country we reside. But time? No amount of money, mobility, determination, or hard work can change the time in which we live.

The people who lived during the time of the Pharaohs or the Babylonian Empire might have been quite pleased or distraught to be living during those times, depending on who they were. Or what about the Medieval Period? Do you think those folks who lived during the time of castles and conquerors and feudalism were thrilled or disgusted to be living then?

I wonder what conversations were like around the dinner table during the French Revolution, a relatively few years following conversations around dinner tables during the American Revolution which followed the conversations around dinner tables during the Age of Enlightenment?

Perhaps the early settlers were happy to be breaking their backs digging and hefting huge rocks from the land because it allowed them to own it. Perhaps they were glad for the tiny cabins they built with their own hands. Perhaps the howling of wolves at night was a sweet lullaby. Perhaps not.

The folks who lived during the Great Depression might have been happy and content because they lived with a family that, despite deprivation, was sound and solid. Or maybe the hobos who wandered from town to town were glad for the freedom such a life afforded. Or maybe the soldiers of WWII were satisfied in the knowledge of fighting evil, of making every effort to prevent its spread.

Or maybe all of these people found good mixed with heartache. Because that is what life offers every single person. Every. Single. One.

Now we are living in our time. Some say it’s the end times. Others disagree. Whatever it is, it is a time of immediate information which, false or true, can spread as quickly and as heatedly as a California wildfire. We live in a time when we have a better idea than, for instance, the Medieval Period, of what is going on in other countries. Not the clearest idea, mind you; but more.

In our time we are tasked with the challenge of figuring out – from the plethora of information that comes at us like a freight train on a desperate mission – which information to believe and which information to discard. Not only that, we are tasked with which information to share, which personal opinion, which reproof, and which encouragement. Who we choose to listen to infuses our belief system. What we choose to believe – for there’s no mistaking it is a choice – determines our thoughts and our actions.

On Judgement Day we will not be given a pass because life was tough or confusing or unfair. Sure, Jesus will stand beside those He saves, but we will still need to own up to our own life’s decisions. Despite some arrogant points of view, I don’t think we are any better than anyone who lived in other times. I shudder when I think that maybe we are worse. And just maybe – if time itself is winding down – we have an extra responsibility to be faithful. Whether it’s done with scrappiness or desperation or bravery or poise, we work, for the night is coming. So here’s my unsought opinion.

No matter what century or decade we live in, we are responsible for dealing the hand that’s dealt us. No matter which era, each person has a lifetime, long or short, to do the right thing. Pray for insight. Pray for wisdom. And in order to do that – to pray – we need to turn off the ceaseless voices of “information” and go to the One who actually knows what’s going on. We need to ask Him what to think and whose voice to trust. We need to read His Word and pray always because without those two disciplines all hope is lost for any sort of clarity. I suspect those who’ve gone before us did the same.

Images: lion-pexels-photo-25346.jpg; log-cabin-pexels-photo-259571.jpeg; Earth_from_space_hurricane.jpg

The Electives of Life (Conclusion)

Today’s guest post is by G.H. Cachiaras. He was for many years a college professor and the Dean of Minnesota Bible College whose building stood proud and strong across from the University of Minnesota. He was my grandpa. Most of all, he was a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. At this time of graduation from high schools and colleges, I thought it appropriate to share some of his words. The text he used is Hebrews 11:24-25. Read the following, if you like, with the sound of his Greek accent underneath his words. The post will be serialized throughout the month of May.

*Blogger’s note: You might be offended by some of what is said. If so, it is because you are offended by the viewpoint of those now passed through history, but whose perspective is every bit as valid as the ones held today. God help us when we are judged by those who come after us.

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Fourth, we will elect to SET OUR TASKS TO MUSIC. By music in life, I mean harmony. How fine and exquisite it is to see a life set to music, happy, contented, at peace with God and man! One of the greatest statements I have heard in a lifetime is that of Dr. Wm. S. Sadler: “No happy man ever has a breakdown in health”. Irrespective of our outward conditions and circumstances, we can elect to be contented, happy, and at harmony with God and man. And without that peace and harmony, we can never be happy, nor will our health hod up under the stress and strain. Even Paul and Silas in prison set their task to music.

Fifth, elect to MAINTAIN YOUR INDIVIDUALITY in the crowd. There is a strange tendency in every generation to “Join the Crowd”; to do “In Rome as Rome Does”, to “join the gang”, and do things that in our own mind we question, but we feel we must do them because everybody else does it.

The strong young man, the one who goes farthest and the one who makes a real contribution to human society is the one who will maintain his own personality, his own individuality irrespective of what the crowd does. One professor cannot copy another’s actions in the classroom. It wouldn’t fit! Is the child in kindergarten crying with true reason or because all the other children are?

Sixth, elect to become a CRUSADER FOR RIGHT LIVING AND FOR CHRISTENDOM. All of our best thinkers are agreed on this one thing today – that our living standards are lowered; that, in many respects, America has lowered her standards to those of ancient pagan nations. America is today at the crossroads. She will either have young men and young women who, of their own free will and volition, elect RIGHT LIVING and high standards, and the ideals of the Carpenter of Nazareth, or we face the prospect of going the way of Pagan Rome.

What nobler sight is there that the mind of man can conceive than the mental picture of the young Crusaders of the Middle Ages who, as they went forth to rescue Jerusalem from the hands of the Saracens, sang “God wills it; God wills it!”

And what nobler sight is there for tens of thousands of young Americans (or Canadians) as they face the future, than to see these youth elect high and noble ideals, choose character above riches, elect to set their tasks to music, to maintain their own individuality, and determine to be a Crusader for Right Living and for the ideals of Christendom, singing as they go forth along the great highway of life, “God wills it; God wills it!”

Image: wikimapia.org.jpg

The Electives of Life (Part II)

Today’s guest post is by G.H. Cachiaras. He was for many years a college professor and the Dean of Minnesota Bible College whose building stood proud and strong across from the University of Minnesota. He was my grandpa. Most importantly, he was a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. At this time of graduation from high schools and colleges, I thought it appropriate to share some of his words. The text he used is Hebrews 11:24-25. Read the following, if you like, with the sound of his Greek accent underneath his words. The post will be serialized throughout the month of May.

*Blogger’s note: You might be offended by some of what is said. If so, it is because you are offended by the viewpoint of those now passed through history, but whose perspective is every bit as valid as the ones held today.

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What are the electives of our lives today?

First, we will elect worthwhile IDEALS. Consider the ideals of two men: Al Capone and Robert M. Hutchins. Both men lived in the same city; but one had high ideals and the other, low. If you ask me, one of the weakest things about America today is lowered ideals. I have seen the day when no young woman would dare enter a saloon. Today one of the most painful things that can tear at my heart is the sight of a woman standing at a bar, drinking beer and whiskey like any drunken sot.

Second, we will elect for ourselves the development of a FINE NOBLE CHARACTER. Character is something that cannot be purchased for a price. Character is something that cannot be inherited from father or mother. It cannot be bequeathed to a son or daughter. It is something that must be elected, chosen, developed, grown, like a sturdy oak tree.

Third, we will elect to pay OUR DEBTS TO HUMAN SOCIETY. We are what we are today as the result of heritage. You have a written language as the result of heritage. You have countless inventions and conveniences and privileges, as well as human liberty, and a land where one may start at the bottom and the poorest of the poor, and go to the top – if he so elects as a result of a great price.

These things have not come by the wave of some man’s magic wand, but they have come from suffering, hardships, labor of both body and brain of countless ones in bygone generations. We have inherited these privileges and opportunities. After we have passed on, human society will either be richer or poorer because we have lived. But as for us, may we elect to pay our debt to society by making the world richer than it was when we came upon the stage of life?

to be continued . . .

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The Electives Of Life (Part I)

Today’s guest post is by G.H. Cachiaras. He was for many years the Dean of Minnesota Bible College whose building stood proud and strong across from the University of Minnesota, as well as a college professor. He was my grandpa. Most importantly, he was a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. At this time of graduation from high schools and colleges, I thought it appropriate to share some of his words. The text he used is Hebrews 11:24-25. Read the following, if you like, with the sound of his Greek accent underneath his words. The post will be serialized throughout the month of May.

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For 25 years and longer, I have tried to be a close observer of people, especially young people. I have liked to watch their faces, their personalities, their modulation of voice, their manner of expression, their reaction to things.

And I have enjoyed watching young people especially at Commencement time. And always as I have looked into their faces, there has come to my mind this question: “Which of these young people will succeed and which of them will fail?”

I have had thus far two outstanding surprises: First, the ones I have thought would go far in their work, often have made of most dismal failures. And second, the ones I have thought would fail outright or be very mediocre have attained outstanding success.

Not once, but again, again, and yet again, I have sought to find a clear answer for the failure of some young people and the amazing success of others. What is there that makes some young people a glorious success and what is there that causes others to fail?

We cannot answer this question by saying, “They had the right pull”. We cannot answer by the word “Environment”. We cannot answer it with “Home surroundings”. We cannot answer it by saying, “The quality of their teachers” for often in the same class, under the same teachers, one will succeed and the other fail.

No, none of these answers are correct in entirety. We must search further and deeper if we are to arrive at a clear, truthful answer to that question. What, then, is the answer, the right answer, to that perplexing and ever-present question, “Why do some young people succeed and others fail”?

I believe the true answer lies within each person, and not without (in outward surroundings, environment, etc.), but within one’s own mind, heart and soul.

That something that we call “Power of Choice”, “Power of Volition”, “The ability to accept or reject” – call it what you will, that something which elects or chooses, is the one determining force that makes or unmakes us, causes us to climb high on the ladder of success, or pitches us down into the dismal swamps of failure.

In High School and College, there are certain required courses. We must take these whether we like them or dislike them – we must take them. On the other hand, there are certain elective courses. We may take them or act as we choose. We call them “The Electives”.

In the University of Life, the electives are the things that make or ruin us. For after all has been said, the last word spoken or written, thought and the power of choice, our “Electives” make us. We build our future thought by thought.

Moses, the young ruler in Egypt, selected to suffer hardships with his own people – slaves, rather than enjoy the riches of Egypt when it meant slavery and rejection of his own people. Because Moses elected the hard thing, the thing that meant pain and suffering for humanity, in all ensuing generations he has been called one of the immortals of history.

Peter chose – elected – to go back to Rome and fight it out with paganism. Had he chosen the easier way, we may never have heard of him, but because he elected to go back to Rome, face the fires of persecution, do the hard but noble and right thing, all men, irrespective of color, will vote Simon Peter one of the really great characters of the first century of the Christian era.

What are the electives of our lives today?

to be continued . . .

Image: wikimapia.org.jpg

Watching From The Sidelines

Superbowl LI was the one to watch, wasn’t it? I’m not a sports fan, but I had an opinion this year. I really wanted the Patriots to win. I watched it on my little kitchen T.V. When all was despair, I left the room. It was too disheartening. But I kept going back. I’d watch, then I’d feel bad and pray to the Lord of heaven to help them, and leave the room again. Why go back? A hopeless situation is just that: without hope. Maybe I thought it could at least become not embarrassing. Not that it should’ve mattered to me.

And then . . . you know that feeling you get when what you thought could never happen happens? I got that feeling. Fist pumps and shouts of woo hoo were actually involved! I can’t imagine the ecstasy true Patriot’s fans were feeling! And I stayed to watch until the very end and watched everything after the end and I was still celebrating in my heart along with everyone else the next day.  Not that I deserved to celebrate. After all, a fair weather fan of anything is just an observer, on the sidelines of the sidelines.

On this weekend the world knows as Easter weekend, new life is welcomed. But for true followers so much more is celebrated! Jesus – the one we saw die on the cross, the one who was buried and whose tomb was sealed with a stone, the one who his enemies thought they’d gotten rid of for good and whose death friends wept over bitterly – became alive again! He rose! From death! To life! And that event – His resurrection – brings with it hope that we will not only resurrect after death, but that our sin is forgiven. Forever. Gone.

And more good news. You’re only on the sidelines if you want to be. C’mon now. Celebrate!

Image: creative commons lic 2.0 www.flickr.comphotoscoconutphotos17041243732 https://www.google.com/search?site=imghp&tbm=isch&q=empty%20tomb&tbs=sur:fmc#imgrc=0VJn5XPu51kjAM:

Witness

 

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We are living during a time of confusion: Confusion about what is right and what is wrong. Confusion about what is true and what is false. Confusion about what is loving and what is hateful and what is neither. Even confusion about the meaning of words. It’s almost as if people have forgotten how to understand and how to reason. How is it possible? How did we get here?

Yet history points its finger and shows us other times of such – we might as well admit it – depravity. Times of dishonesty. Times of conspiracy. Times of complicity. Times of overwhelming wickedness. Times of sin.

Could it be that the crucifixion of Jesus took place during a time when people were willing  to claim a lie was the truth? A time when some people claimed the truth was a lie? A time when the truth was considered ‘hate speech’?  A time of ‘fake news’?

At this time of year, we are the witness.

We follow Jesus through His final hours. We witness how His words were twisted to accuse Him. We watch as people are confused, lose their ability to reason, and succumb to mob psychology. And we begin in the upper room.

Witness the Last Passover Meal

The last supper is a time of communion. Be willing to be uncomfortable; To examine your own heart truthfully and without excuse; To confess your sin: the big sins and the small sins, the sins you committed by doing the wrong thing and the sins you committed by doing nothing at all.

You are in the garden with Jesus. You see His struggle to sacrifice Himself for sin. And you realize the sin is yours.

Witness the Garden of Gethsemane.

After Jesus spent time with his closest disciples at the last supper, after Judas had lied about not betraying Jesus and Jesus had told the truth by affirming that he would, and after they had sung a hymn together, Jesus went to one of His favorite places, the Garden of Gethsemane. It was peaceful and held nature’s fragrance. Jesus spent a lot of time in such a place. He like to pray surrounded by nature.

Some of his friends had come with him, but they fell asleep. Jesus was left alone in the battle of His love of life and will to live –  with His obedience to God and his will to die so we could be saved.

And Judas, a friend who had spent the last 3 years with Jesus, led a contingent of soldiers into that peaceful garden in order to arrest him. Betrayal. It isn’t an ugly word, but it is an ugly action. And it set in motion the most horrible event in history – an event that saved us all.

Witness the trial.

Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”

“If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”

 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”

“But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.

They used the law to break the law.

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

What is truth? That is the question Pilate asked Jesus at his trial. It might have been a sincere question or it might have been a sarcastic comment borne of a time when culture’s understanding of ‘truth’ was fluid, perverted, or situational.

 Witness the mob.

 And now we see citizens who only a few days before had hailed Jesus as king and waved palm branches and shouted  ‘hosanna!’ – turn on him.

See how that happened? It was a result of a weak understanding of truth. It was the intelligentsia insisting on their way. It was a result of going along with what everyone else seemed to believe. And it was so very wrong.

They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

Jesus was brutally beaten. A cross was put on his shoulders. He carried the instrument of his own death down the street – the way of suffering – while people watched. They watched while he trudged up the hill of Golgotha. There he was crucified.

Witness His final words.

“Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.  When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left.  Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’  And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!’  But the other criminal rebuked him.  ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.  But this man has done nothing wrong.’  Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me  when you come into your kingdom.’  Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’  From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

“It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining.  And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ – which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

“Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’

Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’  When he had said this, he breathed his last.”

We are the witnesses. We know what happened. We must tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The verdict comes soon enough.

Youtube video, The Passion of the Christ: <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/OcLZYiePvtU?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>; Scripture references: John 18: 28-40; Luke 23:21; Luke 23: 32-34; Luke 23:39-43; John 19: 25-27; Luke 23: 44-45, Matt. 27:45-46; John 19:28; John 19:30; Luke 23:46

Spin

Who do you listen to? What are your reasons for trusting them? If your life was on the line in a very real and immediate way, would it change who you trusted? It’s a challenge to separate things – wheat from chaff, for instance. Or truth from half-truth. Spin is a word we use to describe the presenting of an incident in such a way that it leads the listener in a certain direction. Sometimes it misleads them entirely. Consider the following:

Immigrants come to the United States to escape difficulties or danger in their homeland or for a fresh start in a land of promise. Terrorists use the mantel of immigration to quietly invade a nation.

President Trump’s administration wants to pause immigration for people from 7 countries that have the most terrorist ties in order to more exhaustively vet them. President Trump’s administration wants to ban Muslim immigrants from the U.S.

Privacy of citizens takes a back seat to gathering intelligence for national security. Privacy of citizens is an important part of living a free life.

The church has lost its influence in the nation (and the world) because it hasn’t kept up with changes in the culture. The church has lost its influence in the nation (and the world) because it has succumbed to the influences of the culture.

What will tomorrow’s news declare? What will be the passionate cry of journalists and actors and preachers and commentators and the guy next door? The news cycle has become the spin cycle and just as dizzying. And while the public becomes faint and nauseated from the spin, the earth spins, too: day and night, week in and week out, season to season, and then . . . then it stops. And the spin: of news, of excuse, of gossip, of the education of all topics, and of what we, individually, say to the God who created us when we pray stops. All of the spin comes to one breathtaking halt. And only Truth remains.

Wheat/chaff reference: Matthew 3:12; Image: Earth_from_space,_hurricaneBy NASAGSFCReto Stöckli, Nazmi El Saleous, and Marit Jentoft-Nilsen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Melania, Milo, and George

What is it about truth that is so threatening? George Orwell would say, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

He also said “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear” and my favorite, “What can you do against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?”.

We witnessed two bright spots recently in an otherwise dreary pattern of contention, corruption, and chaos.

Our First Lady, Melania Trump, took the stand to introduce President Trump and preceded it with the Lord’s Prayer. That act – praying in public if you’re not a minister asked there for that purpose – is an offense to many. This is the state our nation under God finds itself in during this sifting season. But it was also an act of offense rather than defense. That beautiful woman with a lion’s heart showed more courage than we usually see these days. She didn’t ask anyone’s permission. She took the matter into her own hands and took the gathering before the throne of God, Himself. All nations will answer to God. The sooner we acknowledge that, the better off we’ll be. Hers was a revolutionary act of truth.

A second bright spot was the attack on Milo Yiannapoulos, a gay conservative apologist – not the attack, but his response to it. The attack led to a publisher dropping his book deal and cancellation of an important speaking engagement. Because his life is in the public eye, there are numerous tapes of his comments, stopdonaldtrumpac.refutations, sharp wit, and dark humor. Stopdonaldtrumppac.com found some things he had said and twisted them to mean something else. This is the same group that once tweeted “we hate white children”. Lovely people. The accusation was meant to keep him from speaking out. We’ve become used to attacks and condemnations without conscience, but this one was, frankly, from hell, itself. * **

However, I am taking a stand for this man with whom I don’t have much in common, but who is amazingly gifted. Milo has faced much criticism and opposition over at least the last few years. Why? He tells the truth, brutally sometimes and eloquently other times. To accuse someone who has been sexually abused of pedophilia is one of the most hateful things I can think of. This group and others taking up the war cry struck at him with skillful timing. And Milo stepped up and displayed more strength than his accusers might imagine in anyone, including themselves. He publicly acknowledged the abuse perpetrated on him from age 13. (Think for a minute how harsh and despairing that is for a boy on the cusp manhood.) He rejected the accusation of pedophilia and voiced his disgust with such things. He apologized for any hurt those who have been sexually abused felt from his careless words. He refused to see himself as a victim and encouraged others to not see themselves as victims either. (Well that’s refreshing.) And he resigned from his job in order to spare his employer trouble. His clear, immediate, and rather gracious response is something to emulate. He didn’t once raise his voice during his press conference though those there were no doubt happy with his uncomfortable situation. He did what he does so well. He articulately spoke the truth.

Consider these three people. I don’t suppose I would have liked George Orwell personally, but his words are worth thought from everyone regardless of politics. I don’t know whether any of the three I mention here has a relationship with Jesus or if they want one. *** The thing about truth is that it’s true regardless of who says it. And here’s one more truth: The real conflict here isn’t about politics or even about free speech. The war isn’t one of words only. It’s a battle for truth, a war for souls, a battle between heaven and hell. Satan takes no prisoners. His native language is lies. If you fight him from one side, he’ll come at you from the other before you can catch your breath. You don’t have to agree with me or even believe there are such things. But in this time of universal deceit, we need courageous people who tell the truth regardless of the fallout. There’s more at stake than this world dreams of.

* I believe all sexual perversion is wrong, including homosexuality and child sexual abuse. I also believe all sin, seen and unseen, is wrong. (It seems to me that some sin is more detrimental than others depending on how many people are affected, how long they are affected, and the degree to which the person sinning is intentional.) However, all sin, known to others or not, is an affront to our Creator and acts as a death sentence without Christ’s redemption.

** There is a very real concern about pedophilia in this population; but not by this particular person.

*** I hope they do, because their bravery is something He would approve.

Quote: Partial quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of”.