Sunday, July 31, 2016

My America...

I grew up in the America where you saluted the flag EVERY time you saw it.
Where little leaguers paraded into their stadium on Opening Day and then took off their ballcaps -without being told- and stood rigid as fence posts while the National Anthem played.
Where being on a government assistance program was embarrassing and if you found yourself there...you busted your butt to get off as fast as you could.
Where you went to church on Sunday, and so did the local business owners...because they didn't have to open on Sunday to stay afloat.
Where whether or not you were a Catholic, you respected the local Priest if you saw him. Same for the local minister or Rabbi.
Where voting was taken seriously, and talked about passionately, but it never ended friendships, mostly because, while the Dems and the Repubs differed on the means, they agreed on the ends back then. Now...it's a battle between a communist takeover and a group who lost it's vision, it's connection with it's people, and it's soul.
Where a cop was respected, admired, and typically someone from the neighborhood.
Where sports were what we PLAYED far more than what we watched.
Where professional athletes sold us cars and sneakers...not tried to influence our votes or our social positions. (Except on the matter of race...which was important enough to need those voices)
Where a man who worked hard was respected, and saw the fruit of his labor after years of toil, and his neighbors didn't want the government taxing it all away from him because they were envious. They saw him as an example of what hard work could achieve.
Where little boys dreamed of being astronauts or jet pilots or star athletes or doctors or engineers or police / fireman. Or building a business that bore your name and served your community. Not DJ's making millions for creating a drum loop.
Where journalism was respected and if you read it in the paper it was true. Unvarnished, unbiased, TRUE.
Where a soldier was awe inspiring.
Where a tattoo on a man told a story that sometimes brought him tears when he told it.
Where kids knew that communism and socialism were evil.
Where being an American meant a swelling pride -even with our mistakes- and being American was the focal point of our being here at all. It was what brought our parents and grandparents here and they never let us forget how good America had been to us.
When Fireworks on Independence Day were recognized as what they are...symbols of the battle we fought to become America.
Going to the polls this fall will be two entire generations who have no idea what any of this even means. THAT is why we have the candidates we have.
In that America, a Hillary Clinton would be in jail, and an example of what you tell your kids happens to you when you have no moral compass. And Trump would be an admired business man who's shortcomings made him unelectable.
I comfort myself by looking at this and realizing that a man or woman can learn to act Presidentially, but when someone is entirely bereft of character and integrity and has done the unspeakable, they are truly a lost cause.
But I hope we get serious about taking control of our heritage and getting back to that America. Liberals always say "It wasn't YOUR America!" I assume it's those who either never lived in the above mentioned era, or who had beliefs that opposed that sort of greatness.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Please, Don't Come Quickly, Lord Jesus

*I literally wrote this about an hour before the barbaric events in Dallas last night, not knowing what was about to occur. 

Sometimes, when we’ve had a day or a three-day period in this country like we just had, I write. I write in the hopes that people read my words, because I love to communicate and I love expressing my thoughts. I hope for feedback and dialogue, because then I know someone has been reading, and thinking about what I wrote.
But today, I’m writing for a different reason. I’m writing different words. I’m probably going against the grain a little, compared to my evangelical friends.
This week we’ve watched as a ruthless, evil, soulless woman calculated her way to committing treason and, not only got off scot-free, but flipped the bird to the entire collective nation. Hillary Clinton knew the fix was in all along. After watching the debacle in the house today, I believe FBI director Comey was in on it from the start.
Justice was kicked in the crotch on national TV, and Hillary was doing the kicking.
Obama is complicit, Lynch is complicit, Bill Clinton is complicit. Who knows who else?
 Then, in a 24 hour period, two black men were killed by police officers. In the Baton Rouge case, the man resisted arrest, and did it forcefully. He also had a gun. In the Minneapolis case, it seems like the man did everything he was asked to do. Still, both men are dead. I can no more believe that there is a conspiracy among cops to execute black men, than I can believe that all black men are arrest-resisting gangsters, who meet their fate as they deserve. There is fault on both sides…plenty enough to go around.
If I zoom in to the picture I get lost in the divide and the anger. So I choose to zoom out. Out beyond the partial video that everyone wants to use to go ahead and have a trial right now. Past the declaration of evil cops or evil black men. Out far enough that I can see this nation from border to border. The whole picture. All of us.
Pardon me for saying it this way…but what in hell has happened to us?
While MY government…that’s right, it’s MINE and it’s YOUR’S, was playing a con game more intricate than the one Newman and Redford pulled off in “The Sting,” racial tensions got ratchetted up to nuclear level. Conveniently just before the major political conventions. Two men are dead and the three cops involved were instantaneously judged and found guilty and the mob wants blood.
What happened to this country of ours? In my lifetime we passed the Civil Rights Act. We saw the elimination of Jim Crow laws, the breaking of color barriers, and, more importantly, the breaking down of the walls of perception that kept us separated far more than any laws ever did. We were making progress, we were getting past that time in our history. In the last eight years we’ve see all that precious ground given up and then some. We are more divided, more angry, more separated than we ever have been in my 52 years. Why?
The easy thing is to correlate this regression with the election of Obama. The man is a racial divider and there is no other way to say it. No denying it. He divides us by race, class, income, gender, sexual preference and especially by religion. I don’t even think he does it because he is a racist necessarily. I believe he does it because he knows that when we are this divided, we cannot stand together, and he and his cronies can get away with what they have been getting away with for eight years now. Division, demolition, destruction. If you think he cares any more about black America than he does white America, you are in denial. He hates America…all of it. He despises capitalism and American values. He simply plays us against each other in order to keep us too busy fighting to see what he’s up to.
But I can’t lay this at Obama’s feet. Not entirely. Not even predominantly, as much as I want to. Obama is simply the symptom of the problem. The evidence that we are sick as a nation. He’s the fever, not the infection. The infection is deeper and more deadly.
What’s really wrong with us is clearly stated in Psalm 9:17 “The wicked will go down to the grave. This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God.” (Emphasis mine)
We are descending into Hell, because this is what happens to ANY nation who ignore God. America was founded by Christian men on Christian principals. That did not make us a “Christian nation,” at least not a Theocracy. But it made us a Christian society. And any time a society is made up of predominantly Christian folk, who are living their Faith, God will add His blessing to it. You cannot look at our history and argue against this.
But we have run as far from that place as possible now. When our Secretary of State not only lies, but plans her lies, and then escapes even a hint of consequence because she was assisted from the top down…we have abandoned God.
When men and women and children and gunned down in the streets…sometimes justly, many times not…we have ignored God. When babies are slaughtered by the millions and people who defend them are mocked and threatened, we have ignored God. When little girls and boys in this country, are sold as sex toys, we have ignored God. When right is wrong, and wrong is right…we have ignored God.
There are those who say “America needs to repent.” But how can a society repent when they no longer even realize they have sinned? The only people in this country who need to repent right now are Christians. Those who name the Name. We have failed. We have broken our promises. We have forsaken our first love. Romans tells us “How will they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14) and yet what are our preachers preaching? “Love” in the form of a fraudulent gospel that requires no change, no surrender, and no sacrifice? “Come as you are and it’s okay if you stay that way?” A “salvation” experience at the cross that is no longer a life-changing, head-on-collision, but a mere scratch in the mall parking lot.
We don’t preach repentance for salvation. We preach: “Find your path.” We don’t hear “Judgement begins in the house of God” and check to make sure our house is in order. We stand for absolutely nothing anymore. Including the belief in Hell. If you want men and women who will stop running in gangs and start listening to cops and therefore not getting shot...change their hearts! If you want compassionate, caring, slow-on-the-trigger cops who command respect AND trust...change their hearts! 
That, more than anything, is why we are here now. The urgency of the Gospel is gone. Vanished. A victim of populist preaching and limp-wristed praise and worship songs that fool me into thinking God is my bud. God is Tom Sawyer to my Huck Finn. Jesus is my cosmic homeboy who just wants to party with me and “do life” with me. I want to puke!
We don’t preach with passion. We don’t speak about the sins that ruin this country: divorce, pornography, hatred, lying, and alcoholism. We have absolutely NO idea what God’s holiness is and what it looks like and what it demands of us.
No changes in our hearts, no communities affected by revivals, no sense of awe at His presence. Only this weak, unholy view of a Holy God. God; my hipster pal who plays guitar with me in the park. No pillar of fire. No burning bush. The great, unnamed nothing.
I can’t change politics. I can’t enlighten 340 million people about voting issues.
But I can share the gospel. In the end…it’s neither Trump nor Clinton who will end corruption in government and stop people from resisting arrest and cops from going too far and using deadly force. It isn’t more money or programs or a Democrat or a Republican who will finally get us to move beyond tolerating each other to really loving each other.
It’s Jesus.
Not Joel Osteen’s Jesus, or Perry Noble’s Jesus, or Steven Furtick’s Jesus or any of the other imposters and flock stars who are in this because it made them famous.
It’s the Jesus of Paul. The Jesus of Gethsemane. The Jesus of Billy Graham and Tozer and Ravenhill and Falwell and my old pastor Paul Walters, and my friend Dave Lewis. It’s the Jesus who shook me at 14 years old when I heard Keith Green’s “No Compromise” record for the first time and knew I could never be the same.
It’s the Jesus who says “Come see this cross. Come to this Rock, this cornerstone. If you fall on this rock you will be broken…and changed…but if this rock falls on you, you will be crushed and destroyed!” (Matthew 21:44)
I’m done with politics as a solution. I will still vote, still discuss it, still think and reason and decide. But I will not look to politics for solutions to the heart problem that is ripping this nation, and this world apart.
I see my Christian friends writing “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.” Today. I cannot say that. Not yet.
I say, “Please don’t come yet, Lord Jesus.”
Why?
Because the sooner He comes and takes His children home, the more people will be left behind, and their fate sealed. If you think we’ve done a good enough job spreading the real gospel (by The Gospel I mean repent and believe so you will be saved) that you’re okay with Jesus’ coming back right now, good on you. But I am not. I want to roll my sleeves up, spit in Satan’s eye and spend my days preaching the gospel. Seeing lives radically changed, not altered a little through osmosis. I want to wage war in prayer. I want to declare the inner cities off limits to Satan. I want to stand shoulder to shoulder with my black brothers and sisters in Christ and DO something, not just pose for pictures, laugh awkwardly at how different we are, and then go on as if nothing can ever happen. I want to use words like “Born Again” and “Saved” and “Transformed” again. I want to see altars in churches full on Sundays with weeping, broken, CHANGED people…of all colors.
I want to spend what I have to gain what I cannot buy.
Then…I can say “Come Lord Jesus”
I’m restless and sad and broken tonight. I am begging God to use me, starting now. The only hope we have is in the Gospel.
God send laborers. Starting with me.