FOR MS. AGENT X

Sweetheart,

I know it was hard to get up out of bed this morning. I know you struggle with some form of PTSD, that there is a lethargy and a spirit of loss oppressing you, sapping your strength, and holding you down. I know that I don’t fully understand all of that either, that in many ways I add to your burden even when I try to help.

Anyway, I want to validate all of that. I don’t believe for a minute that is who you are. I have known you these many years, and this is not your character. This is your burden. And despite it, you got up and got us all out the door to go honor Jesus today.

Also, I know it was hard to face five – 5, count’m 1,2,3,4,5 – little people, some of them completely and utterly dependent for every aspect of “getting ready” and others with behavior problems and all of them with their individual concerns and load them up and get them to Sunday school. I know that even once they were strapped in and the car was rolling, they still presented challenges, and it was hard even to hear meaningful conversation with me over all the fighting and fussing from the back seats.

I want to validate all of that too. And I know it all adds to your burden. I know you were tired today in worship and didn’t “feel it.”

But what I really want to say is that just the mere fact of going to worship with you today was amazing – in fact, it was downright heroic!

I am amazed, I know that. Even if no one else is amazed, I am. If no one else tells you they are amazed, I will. I see what happened this morning, and I am stunned by it. I am thankful I get to be on your team, and hopeful that Jesus finds me acceptable, in no small part because I was with you. Wow! Today, going to church was God’s work!

It was no small thing on a good day. It was all the more loving and sacrificial on a hard one! I see Jesus in you! It’s apocalyptic! But I see him in you.

I can’t help but think how those five little people, if they didn’t have you in their life, almost certainly would not have got up and gone to worship today. In fact, if left to their birth parents, they almost certainly would have endured hell this morning, not worship. Their ticket to ride is expensive, and you pay it, but you head off hell on earth ushing heaven on earth instead by taking these kids into our home and then giving them to Jesus in worship this morning. I am amazed by it.

The fact that you currently endure personal struggles that make that far harder than it otherwise would be prompts me to see it for myself, and I have a front row seat! I am a participant, but I could have missed it. I have a much deeper appreciation watching you struggle to do this magnificent work than I otherwise would. I see behind the veil. I see angels meeting us as you hand babies off to them so they can play with Jesus for a couple of hours.

Ooooooh Babe, what a sight I see! the wheels within wheels, the eyes all about, the throne and the elders casting down their crowns! I see it all! And I see it because I watched you as you struggled simply to kick off the covers this morning and take a cup of coffee. I see you endure the behaviors of those who act out their fetal alcohol syndrome one minute only to sing praises to Jesus the next! Your sacrifice this morning helped that healing thing to happen, and I saw it! Praise God! I saw it, and I see him in you.

I want to thank you for your service. You shepherded sheep to worship this morning when you didn’t feel like it, and the lambs you brought were all lost lambs until you rounded them up and brought them to the fold. Thank you for that.

God bless you, Ms. Agent X.

God bless you!

BFF

Maybe you don’t have this problem, but I find it hard to make and maintain friendships.  Not that I want to bog down in my own issues surrounding that, but, ironically, I believe it has a lot to do with “church.” My dad was clergy in a tradition that hired and fired about every three years, and I attended six different elementary and two different high schools in four different states.  By the time I graduated, BFF’s were pretty well established without me.

Yesterday, we took our kids to the school Halloween party. My six-year-old met his BFF there, and they played together the whole time, pausing only to take pictures. Preschoolers establish friendships that potentially last a lifetime. I have no idea which one will be the astronaut and which the surgeon, which one the truck driver or which the POTUS, but judging by their connection, such diversity will not sway them from their affection for one another. If cultivated, they will be a resource to one another for decades, though.

Of course, if one of them gets held back in the second grade without the other, or if one of them moves away in the next five years, then all bets are off. I can’t help but think that a little investment on the part of us parents can go a long way to ensure their friendship continues, but if I get an opportunity to take an executive position in Singapore next year, their friendship will not be a factor in my decision whether we stay or go. I presume the same can be said for BFF’s parents.

Just putting the matter in these terms on a blog post already sheds a little light on modern, American “values” they don’t cover even on James Dobson’s Focus On The Family. This stuff won’t come up for review in Bible class at church tomorrow either. I don’t know of any sociology studies that handle it either, though I expect this stuff should be of great interest in all three venues.

I don’t always try to make the application of my posts to homelessness, but I think I will this time.

Practically all people living on the streets suffer their anonymity, isolation, and lack of connection to the vital webwork of relationships in the community. We usually discuss problems of poverty in terms of drug and alcohol addiction, war-related PTSD, down economy, housing crises, laziness, mental illness, immigration, education, and the like. No doubt these forces factor in to the phenom, but no one or two of them explain everyone’s experience with homelessness. And, anyway, partisan politics carve up these discussions limiting their usefulness, in my view.

If I could, I would try to have a meaningful discussion of friendships AT CHURCH in Bible class. I would be interested to explore how the Body of Christ might address societal “values” – especially dealing with wealth – which dehumanize and ignore human relationships (in favor of climbing career ladders in Singapore). What if we didn’t let greed have a pass just because we are into that one? I’m thinking that if we, the people of God, followed Jesus around some modern-day Galilee, we would find him attracting the poor, the sick, the “marginalized” and the criminals to heal and befriend, to feed and to love.

I’m thinking that kind of observation is enough to set us off on a worthwhile exploration of these matters which would, at least as a byproduct, strengthen BFFs and undergird a new world order with love.

That sounds like the politics of the church and of a crucified messiah to me.

FAKE IN THE NEWS THIS MORNING

So, I wake up this fine Saturday morning, change a few diapers, slug a cup of coffee, and catch a few headlines. Fake news headlines.

How do I know it’s fake?

You decide. The item that grabbed my attention was national news, though I don’t really know why.

A famous couple is getting divorced. They have money. They have fame. They have kids. And now they are ending their marriage.

That’s not the fake part, though. That part is real news. Dunno why, but it is. It’s not new I need to know, and in fact, as the story unfolds a big part of it is this couple’s desire for privacy! But still, that is all probably dead-on accurate news.  I just wonder why.

The fake part is where the newscaster informs us how this couple is now trying to “focus on family.”

I kid you not! Those are the words used. I did say they have kids, right? Yes. I did. And so this divorcing couple is now working to “focus on family.”

That’s fake.

Oh MY GOD! Does anyone alive today remember when those words “focus on family” meant anything else but divorce?

Anyway, let me set the record straight just real quick.

Getting a divorce is not how you “focus on family.” It’s how you put yourself ahead of your family. It’s how you trash your family. It’s how you destroy your family.

In fact, IF there is a “focus on family” in a divorce, it is only the focus of crosshairs as you destroy it.

Think about it.

YOU HAVE HEARD IT SAID, “NO ONE HERE GETS OUT ALIVE” … (Part 2 of the last post)

This world is God’s creation, not yours.  You don’t get to be in charge whether by firepower, the vote, or MAGA rallies.  You have heard it said, “No one here gets out alive,” but I tell you no one rules this world until they die and are raised to new life.  Jesus knew that! You do too.

Do you want peace on earth this Christmas? Is that something on your list? 

How far down the list is it? Somewhere below iPhone but higher than Cabbage Patch dolls?

How about we get serious about our Christmas wish this year? Don’t put it off until after Halloween.  Don’t put it off until Thanksgiving. Don’t put it off until black Friday and decorations are dragged down from the attic.

If you want peace on earth, start now with good will toward men (and women, and transgenders too).  (NO I AM NOT ENDORSING IT, but if you want peace….)

By the way, you won’t be equipped to take up the rule of God and claim the dominion given you until you are stripped of your democracy, your power, your AR-15s, your nukes, your money, and your influence. Remember, if the world hates you, it hated Jesus first, and he rules the world alright, but only after he was stripped of all and killed.

Be baptized today! Don’t delay. Claim the birthright of the saved and humble yourself to the point of death. And trust God like a child, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as they.

Merry Christmas!

“NO ONE HERE GETS OUT ALIVE” “THOSE NOT BUSY BEING BORN ARE BUSY DYING”

These, I believe, are direct quotes. I discovered them when I was young and put them in my proverbial pocket so I could pull them out in wise moments of wisdom. If memory is still good (questionable, right?), the first was attributed to Jim Morrison, the latter to Bob Dylan. Quotable prophets for a teenager in the 1980s! (Hey, a step up from those great philosophers of the 1990s – Beavis and Butthead!)

I even thought somehow these quotes enhanced my Christian faith, though I never figured out how or why. Guess I was too busy being “wise” in my own eyes. I’m pretty sure I managed to act the part at one or two campfire scenes. (Was that “cool”?)

Today, rather than trusting in these words to guide my life or sound cool, and rather than dwelling so much on “the end,” I find myself asking more about how I got here. (Busy being born?)

Let me ask YOU, dear reader (Christian reader?) to consider how we got here. I mean in the BIG sense of “how,” the old – even ancient – sense of “how.” You can think about it in more personal terms on your own time (which will be plenty appropriate, btw).

When God created the world, YOU were created on the 6th day. Not first, but practically last. It’s like the other five days were important in and of themselves, but they were preparations too – preparing a home, a dominion, a domicile for the best which was saved for last.

YOU were made in God’s own image. YOU were given dominion and rule over all the rest. The sun, moon, waves, tectonic plates, trees, grass, and all the animals would see God when it looked at YOU, and it all obeyed the HIM it all saw in YOU.

Ruling all that was a H U G E responsibility! To rule sun, moon, stars, tides, earthquakes, and wild beasts is more than YOU can fathom. While all the world’s great empires from ancient times until now have made great inroads into the grand mysteries of ruling the world, none have been able to rule and have dominion that resolves all mystery nor even to preserve themselves from downfall eventually.

The Romans brought PAX to bear on creation, but not shalom, and within PAX, war itself along with slavery, gladiator arenas, and crucifixion would bring order and rule to creation, but could not hold off the barbarians.

Today we are in danger of ourselves as our democracy teeters, as the globe warms, as virus ravages, and as nuclear war threatens extinction of all life.

But in the beginning, YOU were made in God’s image, and all these things knew their place in his PEACE.  And it was GOOD.

That’s a lot of responsibility.

And how did God equip YOU to handle it?

He made YOU naked, but not ashamed, trusting and gullible, extremely vulnerable, and gave YOU a tree of life from which to eat and a tree of knowing right from wrong in which YOUR obedience exercised YOUR humility, and in the midst of that God imprinted his image.  He basically equipped YOU in every way empire denies, refutes, and resists. He gave YOU fear of him alone and LOVE for him and everything he made.

Let the little children come to me, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Today, I keep foster/adopted kids I find in infancy, and I see the fearless, naked, unashamed love of God in them as they trust me and enjoy the blessings of God showered down on them with all the richness white, middle-class America and muster and then some. And in them, I see God. They bear his image. In them I see the dominion and rule of the world that was once JUDGED BY GOD as GOOD.

What if we sold everything we owned, gave it to the poor, and ran off to follow Jesus? Would we be equipped to rule? What if we humbled ourselves to the point of slavery or even to death, would God lift us up to reign with him? What really is the equipment of God for making our world right? Is it more money, more prestige, more firepower or a majority vote? Or is it more faith, more love, more humility?

NOW… go away blessed and find YOURSELF in that kingdom cause.

SMEARED FECES ON THE WALLS OF MY OPPRESSION

Where to start?  I dunno.

I have a fair bit of experience working in prisons, and I have seen (and smelled) prisoners’ isolation cells smeared with feces before.  While not as common as tear gas, it is a thing.  Stuff happens.  Some jobs don’t pay enough; I don’t care what the wage!  Fortunately for me, I was not tasked with cleaning or even entering!

But put all that on pause for a moment.

Ain’t it funny how God sometimes has his way BOTH ways?

You don’t know what I am talking about.

I get it.

Allow me to observe how God puts Job within a “hedge of protection” yet Job complains that he is hedged in.  That’s not just a play on words.  It’s part of the irony and paradox of life.

Consider Jesus on the cross crying out, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?” Yes, he is quoting a psalm there, but this is not just some teachable moment in any regular sense of that term.  He senses he is truly forsaken, and yet… God is more at work in Jesus in THAT moment than any other – except maybe counting resurrection.  Not the normal meaning of “forsaken.”

It’s kind of a BOTH ways kinda thingy.  No?

Yeah.  I think so.

And so, my house (Did I just call it MY house) – a-hem, the House of God where I live, has several broken windows, broken ceiling fans, chewed on window blinds, and crayon, Sharpie-colored walls.  Hosting Baby Jesus is sorta destructive – certainly to “the flesh.”

So, anyway, this morning when I opened the door to the little boys’ room, these little guys (who barely talk, btw) come tumbling out into the hall to greet me, and the three-year-old runs up to the wall, points to a few mysterious dark marks and announces, “Poop!”

I’m feeling hedged in a little too.

WE KNOW AN IDOL IS NOTHING, BUT DO WE KNOW OUR CHRISTIAN LOVE HAS MORE VALUE THAN OUR RIGHTS

(I’m saying all this so I can say something else later… (keep that in mind).)

(Disclaimer: I don’t normally think of myself as a TEACHER, though I recognize that when people take the time to listen to me, really listen, they not too infrequently learn something.  In this post, I sense I am trying to teach American Christians how to behave, how to love, and how to represent Jesus.  However, I also figure my presentation will be a bit convoluted with complexities.  Please bear with me, and if you are a know-it-all, already Christian, feel free to ignore this.)

Like practically everyone I know, I am troubled by American politics.  I was troubled at least two decades back, but not like I am now.  However, unlike everyone I know (at least I think this), I am particularly troubled by the way the church is caught up in American politics.  My posts, rants, teachings, and input of various kinds is always aimed AT THE CHURCH specifically, not the average American.

I was young when Jerry Falwell gave us “the moral majority” and promoted the ideas of boycotts and voting a specific way – basically Republican – as part of his Christian teaching and agenda.  I remember when this marriage was a new idea, at least in the ranks of churches of Christ.  The Christian sect I was born into already had a rich heritage of avoiding secular politics, even voting, and in some places even questioned if we should fight in the military.

So, early on, there was a resistance to Falwell.  But in those days, most of us in this sect already believed on “biblical grounds” that Jerry Falwell was apostate and leading people to hell on account of his not adhering to the biblical faith our sect held forth.  (We were a little more like Rev. Phelps in that way.)

I come from the very nondenominational churches of Christ, a splinter sect descending from the American Restoration Movement which split over 100 years ago into The Disciples of Christ, the Christian Church, and the churches of Christ.  In my view, our bunch was the most hard-bitten, mean-spirited of the splinter groups.  We were “fundamentalist” who put Fundamentalists to shame.

But… we also tended to remove ourselves from the public sphere to a large extent unless there was some chance to debate with Christians from quite literally ANY other part of Christendom about salvation in other-worldly terms.  We really believed we were the only saved people, that we would go to heaven when we die, and literally all other people would burn in hell for eternity for not following God like we saw fit.

Got it?

Yeah.  But it gets complicated when you dig around in our history because, believe it or not, we started out as a “unity movement.”  There’s a number of ironies there.

Here’s another: the two main churches to actually START in America (both shortly after the American Revolutionary War) were the Mormons and the Restoration Movement led by Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone.

I point this out because, though dripping with ironies thicker than maple syrup, you can’t hardly get more American in spirit than the churches born here in the aftermath of that war!  Think about it.

Campbell’s movement may not have been overly patriotic at some significant points, but this founding member was fascinated, as was the rest of the educated world, with the idea of a government rule of law.  And if you think about it carefully, that relatively new idea which produced a declaration of independence and a constitutional law is a fascinating idea.  This kind of thinking CHANGED EVERYTHING!

What Campbell did, which seems rather novel now, is to treat the New Testament like the US Constitution.  The NT, though, was not written, ratified, and voted on by men, but by God.  (I guess this is how he was able to sit loose with patriotism.)  This was God’s law, his new law of the new covenant.  And thus it must be read and treated LIKE the US Constitution.

You could have liberal or conservative interpretations of the law, but you must appeal to it to make case law arguments.  And if you know anything about churches of Christ, probably the first thing you know is that we historically did not worship with instrumental accompaniment.  The reason being, the NT does not authorize it, which is true.  The NT nowhere commands, exemplifies, nor infers that Christians should or even can use a piano, a guitar, or any other musical instrument except the human voice in worship.

It’s not prohibited either, of course, but not authorized.  And so, a conservative read of this Constitution dictates it must be avoided.  (And you thought you knew legalism when you saw it! Ha!!)  Thus, the good conservatives of the churches of Christ withdrew from fellowship with Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Catholics, and even many other churches of Christ over such differences.

I mention all of that to say that way back in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and even the 80s when Jerry Falwell made his splash, many of us in the churches of Christ weren’t much interested in boycotts or voting blocs and “moral majorities” since to our way of thinking, these were all hell-bound apostates anyway, and their ideas were destined to burn with them.  In fact, this whole world was destined for a FIRE and Judgement to come, so why vote for it.

That’s almost unAmerican in some sense, I know, but irony of ironies, it’s also all the more deeply American if you think about it.  It’s a little like those conservatives who think we should be free to burn the flag since making a law against it would be an infringement on freedom!  (So, there!  We aren’t the only snake eating its tail!!!)

I hope you are still following my drift, but none of this is my real point.  Not yet.  I am merely laying the groundwork and doing so from my experience within my faith heritage.  And I am laying down a marker: this hard-bitten, legalistic faith was DEEPLY AMERICAN in spirit.  In fact, there was something demonic about what Jefferson, Franklin, Hancock, Hamilton, Washington and friends bequeathed us.  A demon that built at least one church on American soil.  (I will abstain from saying that about Mormons too, but I will leave that for you to decide.)

So, allow me to get a little closer to my point now.

I remember as a child listening to my grandparents and some of my aunts and uncles “discuss” apostates both in the churches of Christ and out.  My parents were of a generation which began to think outside this box, and thus were considered liberal if not apostate themselves.  And so, I ask you to imagine how dark some of these “discussions” could get.

And I am talking about casual conversation!

Basically, it was gossip of a specifically religious kind.  My grandparents were more hell-bent on this kind of thing than being racist (oh, and they were racist too, but not overly hateful about it).  I heard my grandparents drop the N-bomb a few times, but it was rare and always casual.  But they would talk about Baptists, Methodists, and/or divorced-and-remarried people in the church of Christ with a vitriol unparalleled.  If a brother was deemed to be too soft on instrumental music, he could come up for review in this way!

And my grandparents were nice people!  (mostly)

You would probably like them if you met them.  If you were broke down on the side of the road, they would give you a lift to the garage!  If you asked for a cup of sugar at the front door, they would trip over themselves to give it to you and send you away with a blessing!  But, by God!!! if you showed up for worship late or skipped a Wednesday night song service for a ball game, you were an abomination!

Go to hell!  Sinner!!!

Wow!

Now… to be fair and honest.  My grandparents all tended to vote Republican.  There were segments in our movement that abstained from civic politics, but that was further back in time than my life, never was a major feature in our movement, and thus something of an irony.  However, my grandparents never mixed religion and politics.  The Republican party was destined for the same hell as Democrats, BUT as long as we are here (and as long as we get a vote), they would make use of it about like St. Paul made use of his Roman Citizenship.  It was not our core identity, but when and where we could use it to advantage, we did.

What can I say?

A toe-hold for the devil?

I reckon so.

I was in grade school when I first heard of Jerry Falwell and the “moral majority.”  I remember my mother resisting the idea of boycotts on religious grounds.  There was a feeling there that we don’t follow apostates like Falwell on the one hand, and on the other, we don’t lord it over the gentiles either.

I remember her resisting this kind of thing early on, but by the 1990s, I didn’t hear ANYTHING on the subject.  Not from within our ranks.  I think we were doing that slow boil lobster pot for about 20 – 30 years.  Not a lot said at all, and even now, I don’t think you find churches of Christ at the forefront of evangelical political voting blocs.  However, we are hitched to the wagon nonetheless, and depending on the group, you will hear more or less, but support all the same.

THIS IS WHAT BOTHERS ME.

I am not one to rush to judgment on Jerry Falwell as an apostate on religious grounds, but I am one to resist him for lording it over gentiles!  That second bit is right, and we should have held to it.  But we didn’t.  And I am bothered by that.

So, HERE’S THE POINT of TODAY’s POST:

I was driving back through my neighborhood past the house with all the Pro-Trump signs all over the fence and in the yard.  Flags, banners, signs – all that.  It’s almost like visiting Vegas and all the casinos lit up, except it ain’t lights or casinos.  But otherwise, a good comparison.

I bet you have a few of those in your town too.  But keep in mind, this is the Bible belt!  This is Lubbock, Texas, a town about as Christian as it gets!  My neighborhood is not fifty years old yet, though well established.  It’s a nice area of town, quiet, neat, clean – mostly white too, for that matter!  We are us here, conservative, traditional – everything except actual white picket fences.

But right across the street from this Pro-Trump house is a nice yard with BETO signs.  Not a lot of them, but at least two.  It’s not the only house in the neighborhood with BETO signs, nor is the other the only one with Trump signs, but to drive between these homes, even in the quiet hours, or the cool of the day, is to funnel through the gauntlet of vitriol.  Right now, it’s not guns pointed at each other, but signs, but some of those Trump signs are hateful and contemptuous!

“Our president is an idiot” – for instance.

If we took down all the political signs in all the yards, like we used to do six years ago between election cycles, you’d think we were all alike and on the same page.  There is a very homogenous feel to this neighborhood without that garbage.

Even if each yard erected a sign with only the name of the candidate they support, and maybe just one instead of a Vegas-style over-the-top, used-car-lot flash-fest, it would be quite civil and polite.  But as it is, the hostility screams off the lawn silent screams of hate, vitriol, and contempt for fellow citizens and neighbors for whom Christ died.

That same old demon that established the churches of Christ on American soil, that reared its ugly head in “discussions” between my grandparents and their friends has invaded the populace now and is ravaging my neighborhood in the name of Trump (or Beto).

OKAY, OKAY, OKAY… So, THAT’s NOT QUITE MY POINT YET, BUT THIS IS:

THIS CRAP is the influence my church heritage has on the world!

We bequeathed this nonsense to the public.  This is the church’s influence, the church’s fault, and churches of Christ in particular.  And all you Baptists (especially Baptists), and Methodists and Pentecostals and Presbyterians who ever bumped up against us and got a bad taste in your mouth about us in all those decades back were right to be offended!  So, why are you adopting our demons???

You think you have these RIGHTS!  You didn’t get them from God; you got them from Franklin, Jefferson, and Washington after they killed the king’s men.  Those rights were born in rebellion, in breaking with Romans 13!  They were demonic when you got them, and they still are!

We know that idols are nothing (I Cor. 8:4), and we have a right to eat meat offered to them, but we have a responsibility to God and to weaker brothers (AND DEMOCRATS, HOMOSEXUALS, TRANSEXUALS, and MINORITIES and IMMIGRANTS) to abstain from that meat if it causes them offense!

Evangelicals are leading the demon charge!  Ravaging the world in hate, contempt, discontent, and ugly yard signs!  But we are called to LOVE.  Love even our enemies.  And I would a lot rather love my Beto-voting neighbor in peace than my Chinese oppressors.  Wouldn’t you?

Make peace on the way to court, y’all!  Do it now, or you will be thrown into prison and will not come out until you have paid the last cent.

Think about it.

MISSED A DOSE

I love my kids.  There are numerous reminders that they aren’t MINE – biologically, anyway.  Skin color for starts.  I cannot provide them with the inheritance of their cultural heritage.  So much is lacking in those ways, and I often think of it.  But otherwise, they are MINE relationally.

If my kid was scared or hurt and you tried to comfort him, you would be a stranger to him.  He might take comfort from you, but he would prefer it from me.  We have the bond.  That bond is real.  It’s as real as blood, as far as I am concerned.

But the only reason I have these kids is due to the unfitness of their biological parents.  Someone needed to intervene.  It was Mrs. Agent X and I.  And that unfitness did harm even during gestation.  My kids suffer life-long aftereffects of the drug abuse of their parents.  And they require medication to keep them “whole” now.

My kids are a handful even medicated.  I realize the difference between them and their peers when we socialize.  But I know my kids well, and I see their sweetness, their tenderness, their sensitivities.  My kid wants to give away his money to the homeless!  I preach that here all the time, but I don’t hardly mention it to my little kids.  Yet, somehow he heard me, and he offers it up.  A six-year old’s sacrifice to Jesus.

He wants to pray too.  He loves to go to church.  He is mesmerized by the giant crucifix hanging above the priest during Mass.  I didn’t teach that to him; he has his own connection to Jesus.  I am sure I helped it, but I cannot take credit.  He and Jesus have a relationship independent – in part – from me.

But then he missed a dose the other day.

Wow!

He was a storm of psychotic breakdown.  It was all I could do to restrain him from hitting, kicking, spitting and tearing up the place.  He said numerous vile and hurtful things.  He lost control.  His little siblings climbed all over us as I contained him, and I thought the babies would get hurt.  It was quite a physical struggle!

It also was heartbreaking.

He didn’t settle down for most of an hour.  It took a lot out of me physically and emotionally.  I see how important it is that he get his meds in a timely fashion.

He was very remorseful later.  That was so sad too.  It breaks my heart all over again that this happened to him, was in no way his fault, yet it was his behavior out of control and dangerous.

I will be an old man soon.

I can be his Pops right now, but a day is coming sooner than any of us will be ready for when he will have to make serious decisions about our relationship and his life.  He will need help all his life, and I will be gone for most of it, probably.

I give my kid to Jesus.  But it’s like Miriam putting Moses in a basket in the Nile among the crocs.  I sure hope God guides that basket.

I am just a white guy changing diapers, feeding infant formula, and losing my heart to these little gifts from God that come in dynamite stix.  Who is sufficient for this?  But I assure you, cruel world, you are not worthy of the gift my kid is to me.

Please treat him with charity.

May God bless his life.

YOUR CHRISTIAN HATE WILL NOT STAND

I might be the only person to call out Christian hate.  I don’t know anyone else challenging it.  Also, I don’t think I understand it, certainly not in entirety.  But I feel it.  I know when I am being loved, and it might take a while for me to admit it, but I also know when I am hated.

Indifference and hate are not exactly the same either, but hate likes to masquerade as indifference.  Indifference evades accountability.  But neither are Christian love, and so even where they differ, they are close neighbors.

Like studied non-observance, true hate requires investment.  There probably isn’t a pure indifference.  I don’t know what the modern/postmodern philosophers say on the subject, but I bet it is fodder for a paper or a book.  But we are needy creatures by nature; don’t let placement at the top of the food chain fool ya.

When you were born, you were so vulnerable and naked and needy that you would die without care in a matter of hours.  You could not speak, but expressed yourself in cries and sleep mostly, and you didn’t know what those meant either.  It was probably your mother interpreting whether you were tired, hungry, or dirty.  And you didn’t pass out of that phase for months, possibly years in some cases.

This is pretty much true for every person able to read this post.

The fact that you can read here now, drive a car, hold down a job, balance a checking account, and converse with others is a testimony of the enormous investment both a few individuals, groups and institutions, and even society at large put into your life over the course of many years.

All the independence you possess, exhibit, value, or admire is actually a passing fancy.  For if you live long enough, you will eventually lose it bit by bit until you return to almost the same state as you started (at least physically).  If you behave so completely antisocially that no one will help you when you reach that last phase, you will die prematurely for not being loved.

Even in a Darwinian scope, love, hate, and indifference impact your fitness for survival.  You might be the top of the food chain, but you didn’t get here as a self-made person.  Thus, I doubt indifference is ever really pure.  It’s probably hate masquerading.

As a Christian, one who loves God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind and strength, how can you really even so much as stand in a checkout line waiting for your turn to pay and ignore the people in front of and behind you?  How can you look at the swimsuit issue and not acknowledge the “strangers” around you?

I’m not, at present, advocating you try to evangelize these people like a Bible thumping nerd, but how can you not greet your fellow Americans?  Even talk about something safe like the weather if you must!  Am I right?  Are we in this together, or are we all so suspicious of the strangers around us that we can’t risk making fools of ourselves for the love we profess?

Sit with that!

..

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No.  Really.  Sit with that.  I can wait.

Because the moment I begin talking about how your church and parachurch organization will actually charge you money to take a class where they will train you not to give money to beggars, we will be on such another part of the spectrum that you won’t see the relation between the two.  So, yeah.  Sit with it a bit longer.

Feel me yet?

I got to church with people who are all smiles and handshakes AT CHURCH and WITH ONE ANOTHER behind those doors, and they will even sometimes (not always) smile at me, shake my hand, but somehow we remain disconnected at truly spiritual levels.  It’s like we meet once a week, might sit through a “Bible Class” together, but definitely sit in worship hall where we all sit in rows looking at the backs of heads in front of us, at professional worship leaders on stage overhead, often in theater darkness, sing our songs, bow our heads in prayer, commune with a pinch of cracker and a thimbleful of grape juice, and then on the way out we talk about the weather for five minutes.

Is it any wonder most of the people in that checkout line aren’t attracted to any more of that?  Why are you?

To be frank, I don’t feel any of this Christian love in going through these motions.

Do we have something special to offer this society, this world, or not?  And if so, why are we not offering it?

Where’s the love?

But I know a good Christian family who went through a divorce a few years ago.  I wasn’t there for every moment of discourse behind closed doors, but I have a bit of insight anyway.  The shepherds, I don’t believe, even tried to intervene and save this marriage.  This is America, and sh*t happens.  So, the church just watched it unfold.  Even those who prayed with the wife were impotent to bring God’s love to bear or any conviction.  Those who prayed with the husband, same.

So, when the wheels finally came off the marriage, the wife left this flock and found another across town.  Meanwhile, those who were a little closer to her, became a little more distant with him.  Those a little closer to him became a bit more distant with her.  And in the midst of that, the shepherds at the other church where the wife showed up were impotent to coordinate in prayer with the shepherds at the church she left.

Jesus, before going to the cross, prays his disciples all be one together.  One flock.  This woman left our flock but joined another where she supposedly worships the same Jesus as her ex-husband, only they no longer do so as one, and the church which is split up into many denominations is impotent to address it.

But when these same people later fall in love with another, these same churches are only too ready, willing, and able to endorse, celebrate, and support these new marriages all while ignoring the Christian hate left to fester in the original marriage.

This Christian hate will not stand.