Friday, January 29, 2021

If I Had One Prophecy ~

If I had one prophecy ~

I might prophesy that abortion will remain legal for another 47 years AND I would add to my prophecy that only Love is greater than laws, only Love is significant enough to offer solutions, and only Love would create bipartisan ideas to offer women the answers they so richly deserve when faced with the complexities that will always transcend partisan rancor. 

I'd prophesy Love.

Love would create Pro-life and Pro Choice wisdom for the greater good of a society at the brink of self destruction. I’d prophesy what Jesus said, “You’ve heard it said of old, ‘thou shalt not kill’, but I say if you are angry and call people fools, you should be brought before the ‘supreme court’”. It seems to me Jesus is pressing us to realize we have much greater heart issues to win! And, as such, by Love we could insure that babies will no longer be born into a world of this murderous hatred we’ve created. 

I’d prophesy Love.

I could possibly prophesy that the church of the USA HAS come just together to vote for the best solutions our nation faces today. I’d add to my prophecy that voting as a single block of partisan robots has only succeeded to further divide us thus preventing any honest political ideals from becoming solutions. 

Through the eyes of Love I might prophesy that multiplied millions of Americans of faith in Christ came together and voted across all party lines; for Republicans, Democrats, and Independents who must now learn to work together as family or perish together as fools. 

And through those same eyes of Love I’d prophesy that Catholic Christians, Orthodox Christians, and Christians of multiple notions awakened to elect all different kinds of human beings with a wide diversity of beliefs and lifestyles to represent EVERYONE in the USA and not just a select few…in order that we’d all have to learn to live beyond hate. And while I'm on the subject of faith, I'd prophesy Love for Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and beyond...

I’d prophesy Love.

I’d be so bold (if I did prophesy in such a manner) as to suggest that the one billion Catholic Christians on earth could be proud to say they have the unique and extraordinary opportunity of having one their own as the President of the USA (only the second time in American history). I’d prophesy that their liturgy would unify with him at weekly mass and the possibility of one billion people praying together would have planetary implications.

I’d prophesy Love. 

My bold prophecy (if I were to prophesy so boldly) would extend to proclaim a new day for Protestants whose exhaustion with the vain repetition of demanding monolithic singular political solutions has finally pressed us to accept the art of healthy compromise. I’d prophesy a day of Love for and among politicians to remember that their best work is done in the art of compromise (the real work of political science) in order that all will have some answers rather than half getting everything while leaving the other half to boil in bitterness. 

I’d prophesy Love. 

My prophecy would rest on the Shoulders of Jesus’ prayer, “Father, that they all may be one as we are one…that the world might believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21). And my prophecy would reach for an end to “us versus them”; an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth world promising only a blind and toothless existence. 

My proposed prophecy would stand in the middle of the dreamy notions of Prophets like Isaiah and Micah who imagined the day when all weapons of war would be converted into agricultural marvels to feed everyone on earth equally…why? Because of Love, that’s why.

I’d prophesy Love.

Yes…I’d prophesy Love and never (never have, never will) a politician.

Only Love deserves that kind of endorsement. 

Only Love will do the heavy lifting of the challenges before us. 

Only Love will demand more of us than all our previous ideas and debates.

Only Love will point us upward and away from the mess we’ve created. 

“Love alone is credible.” ~Hans Urs von Balthasar~ 

"Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away..." ~St. Paul~

Monday, January 04, 2021

Herod Will Never Be "Great Again"

An intriguing parallel to the current political machinations of the USA is found in the familiar Christmastide story of the Magi in Matthew 2:1-15. 

The legendary crew of the Wisemen (and the necessary entourage likely surrounding them) arrives in Jerusalem in their eager pursuit of seeing the baby born as “King of the Jews”.  All they have to go on is a mysterious star in the night sky and that mystic ideal in and of itself describes their sweet naivety.

So in that naive mindset, they accept an invitation to King Herod for further directions and information about that King of the Jews, who we know is Jesus. Herod was so troubled by the rumors of why these far east visitors had arrived in Jerusalem that he tapped into the wisdom of local religious scholars for where a new King of the Jews would be born. 

“Bethlehem, Land of Judah…” they announced, and thus Herod passed along this borrowed spiritual revelation, no doubt hoping to sound like a fellow pilgrim…especially when he feigned, “…when you have found him, report to me, that I too may come and worship him.” 

We all know the rest of the story; the Magi find the Baby, they worship Him, and they are warned by God in a dream (once again underscoring their delightful naivety) to flee the fraud, King Herod ~ “The Great”. Herod (the Great!) is so embarrassingly insecure about these goings on, that he orders baby boys under the age of 2 from Bethlehem killed in order to cling to his power. 

Fast forward to America 2021; our own version of Herod (The Great) is currently clinging to power by any and all means. Feigning spiritual connection, our modern Herod has rubbed some shoulders of religious groups enough to be able to parrot a few Bible verses…and not coincidently, we are seeing generation affected by this fiasco who are being alienated by the deadly marriage of politics and religious faith.  

A certain picture of failing authority is the scratching and clawing to maintain it at the mere mention of something better on the horizon. On the other side of this magnificent tale, a sure sign of royal greatness is in the vision of a relaxed baby protected by transcendent majesties…without a care in the world. 

A dream similar to that which came to the Magi warning them “not to return to Herod” is coming soon to spiritual theaters of the mind all across our nation. Eager, mystical, and even naive spiritual pilgrims will become the stuff of legendary stories because they saw through the fakery of an emotionally weak King and listened rather to dreams of a better way… 

Herod and all his line of Herod successors have fallen. Herod will never be “Great Again”. When Jesus was offered all the geopolitical power He could ever dream of, He waved off the Satan with the simplicity of a naive commitment to worship God alone (Luke 4:6,7) 

It’s time for the rise of another troop of simple, star-gazing worshippers wise enough to flee the trappings of scheming politicians.  

Monday, October 26, 2020

My Heart is Broken

 My Heart is Broken

Jesus announced His ministry with the act of reading Isaiah 61, which includes, “…He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted…”. 

From the first breath, His first sermon, the first moment of controversy ~ Jesus is about healing the brokenhearted. Hearts broken by betrayal, ignorance, fear, sinfulness, and yes, even broken by misplaced religious conviction. And perhaps especially, by religious conviction.

We’ve all lived through more heart break than most of us would like to rehearse. We all have our stories. We all know the crushing sense of, “what the living hell just happened?” Some of us have diaries filled with our tear filled curses and secret weeping about, “WHAT THE…?!”

Betrayal sneaks up on us and hides in our sweet ideals of us always trusting, always relying, always believing. A broken heart begins with “knowing” but it ends with, “WHAT THE …?!”

So here’s my deal: after 48 years of ministry, staying the course, holding my values to a singular calling, shaking hands with a few political kings, and being courted by the same…my heart is broken. 

I felt it coming when I was asked to pray at a political rally in 2004 IF I gave my church mailing address list to that Party, but I refused to sell my prayer. I knew then, but I didn’t want to accept it. I wanted to believe, I longed to trust, and I was determined to win any opponents. 

By the way, I attended the aforementioned political rally and heard my replacement pray, in the presence of hundreds of people, and in the ears of a future “king”; but I knew the cost of what that prayer was for me. A cost beyond my heart.

So began my final lap around a race to remain true to my heart. My heart belongs to One, and I discovered the heart-breaking reality that my heart is not for sale. 

So in 2016, when nearly all of my spiritual family began to rally around Donald Trump as the prophesied Isaiah 45 Cyrus, I was nervous. I held my thoughts tight…I measured my words…I tried to protect my heart.

I thought that this moment would pass. I hoped that my spiritual family would arrive at something more measured, more insightful, and more fully aware of how our hearts could be captured by an image of our ideals wrapped around hidden illegitimate purposes. 

All hearts reach for dreams…yet, that’s where illegitimate sales people arrive with a sales pitch. 

For a moment, I need to reinforce my beginnings. My mom was healed at the hands and healing of a man who ended up in a tragic failure of his own fraud. I’m forever grateful for that miracle but I am also forever aware of that man’s frailty. It reminds me to stay true to my heart.

I came to a revelation of my current Kingdom convictions from a man whose back-stage realities were tragically reprehensible. While I remain grateful for the Kingdom this man revealed to me, I am also painfully aware of his betrayal. It again reminds me to stay true to my heart.

Now, an entire movement, committed to the Kingdom I deeply treasure, this movement now boldly and openly endorses President Trump as the *only* Christian choice, the *only* valid vote, and the *only* opportunity to save the USA. I have thought, I have hoped, I have believed…however…now, again… My heart is broken.  

I KNOW that Jesus will again heal my broken-heart as He has before. Every time my heart is healed, I become a better human. And I KNOW Jesus will remain the only power worthy of my heart and create a new heart for a better day. 

I am concerned that an entire generation watching this crisis will doubt the veracity and credibility of a church whose endorsement of President Trump sounds more like a confession of faith than a simple choice on a ballot. 

I am concerned that the gospel too often sounds like, “Receive Jesus, be baptized, and accept His choice of the Republican Party, and you shall be saved.” 

An entire generation has headed for the exits at that sound…and their hearts, and mine, are broken. 

My hope is that ultimately, this might just be the Good News in this broken hearted moment. Jesus patiently waits to bind up the brokenhearted who long for MUCH BETTER DAYS.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Racism: A Life Without Love To it or Through it

 Racism ~ 

It's a life without love TO it or through it. 

An aberration of a human being but not a human present.

A tree without branches.

A mountain lost in a larger valley.

A car with 3 wheels roaring down a highway at high speed.

A flower with no peddles.

A wedding without a bride.

A house with no doors.

A street with no intersections.

A train straining to reach full speed with no tracks beneath its enormous weight.

An orchestra on stage sans the musicians.

A song without a melody and missing a cadence.

We can live without love just as we could live without sleep...and we slowly become ghosts of exhaustion.

Why do we even bother to look at the extremists who shout? Because we can not help but stare...rubber necking at the view as our instincts shouts, "Beware! Be aware!" Or worse yet, "Could this be me?"

We watch and wonder, "Why?" and, "When will this crash?" 

And we suddenly know that any life without LOVE always fades into fear...fear of the other. 

We watch and wonder, "Is there any lack of significant LOVE in full blown within my own experience?"

Racism dies, line by line, the instant authentic Love begins its unfailing ferment within our soul. 

Monday, July 06, 2020

Born in the USA...Born Again in the Kingdom of God (Part One)

I’m blessed to have had many profound life defining epiphanies. Indulge me a few moments please, while I share the highlights of a few of these definitions.

Like many of you reading this, I was “born again” into the Kingdom of God. I did not have a single moment altar call experience, but I found the reality of Jesus Christ as a high school kid searching for a way out of a world of internal misery locked up in me. I grew up in a home with significant addiction issues and the “new birth” pains in me led me to a Love in Christ for which I am forever grateful. Trust me…this is a very long story made very short for this blog. 

Now on to another epiphany…

I went to a denominational Bible College who taught me an appreciation for listening to the Holy Spirit…an internal, beautiful, supernatural GPS, if you will. That denomination began the process of ordaining me when (drum roll please) I followed the Holy Spirit to work for a beautiful expression of the Kingdom of God outside the aforementioned denomination. My relationship with them was terminated due to my failure to keep the Kingdom of God as the sole property of their organization. Broke my heart…

But what began as a flood of tears for the loss of that relationship, has evolved into one of the best decisions of my life… and a pattern setting epiphany for my future. The Kingdom of God won my affections, yet again.

You might say, I was born again…again.

Which brings me to another new birth epiphany. After a 38 day fast my wife and I discovered a spiritual family, 1200 miles away, who taught us the phenomenal beauty of the Kingdom of God! And, with yet another long story made short, we happily jettisoned doctrinal/theological confines that had been restricting our full embrace of the Kingdom. 

And you might say, I was born again…again…and again. See a pattern developing here? For the sake of time and space, I’ll need to condense the next few epiphanies…

One day while preparing a sermon on my passion for Pro-life, my internal GPS (Holy Spirit…remember?) whispered, “While you may wax passionate about this, remember there will be women in your audience who have had the heart crushing experience of an abortion. See them with the eyes of Jesus.” 

New birth was the result of months of training myself to walk in that revelation. 

Years later, a local Republican party leader called me and invited me to pray at a George W. Bush reelection rally. Initially, I was all a flutter…but then another request was made; “Could you provide your church’s email/mailing list so we can contact them?” I simply refused to cross that ethical line… and my invitation to be seated on the platform with a President was withdrawn. 

Born again…and so, my political persuasions bowed to a Higher Power.

Fast forward to the night President Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by our brave military. When I fist pumped the air, my Holy GPS alerted me; “Recalibration required.” And my life turned abruptly toward a more profound and lovely revelation of the Kingdom of God. 

You see, part of the life in the Kingdom of God is a journey toward, “…they will turn their swords into plowshares…learning war no more…those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” I could’ve remained in the safety of my spiritual womb…or be born again to the Kingdom of God.

More currently, I found myself completely surrounded by an association of people of faith whose mantra was something like this: “Christianity is the same as and equals conservative Republican politics. God has chosen a new President and this is prophetically affirmed.” (See January 11, 2020 blog ~ "This Was Bad Behavior...")

My GPS went off like a tornado siren. 

In this context I have witnessed an avalanche of correlations and equalizations to our nation as it relates to the Kingdom of God. Most are subtle, some are not. I’ve learned an awareness of the subtle hybrids and the blending of America and the Kingdom of God…such as churches where they fly the flag of the USA with the Christian flag symbolically lower as an expression of submission. 

An easy way to apply this is to try this exercise: If the King of any third world nation said, “Our country is the closest thing to the Kingdom of God on earth. We believe we are God’s gift to the world. God has told me I am His chosen and my nation is a chosen people. I’m fairly certain we would laugh him to scorn. 

And yet, similar statements have been made about the USA. “A City set upon a hill” and “the last best hope on earth” to name a few… but these are truths that only apply to the Kingdom of God! 

On a smaller scale, here’s condensation of another example; “the Democrates/Left are an evil force seeking to destroy our nation! Christians must speak up.” Read that again. Just typing it makes my spiritual GPS spin… 

Christians are present in the Democratic Party too. Christians have left-leaning ideas as well. Christians are not the sole possession of any ideology. And the only nation Christians are called to speak up for is…the Kingdom of God. Right leaning and left leaning Christ followers might rally AS ONE declaring, “Jesus Christ is Lord. We have no king but Him.”

I love the USA, but I love the Kingdom of God more. I love our fledgling form of government, but I love the Government that rests upon the shoulders of Jesus more (Isaiah 9). The USA has phenomenal freedoms, potential, and blessings seldom seen on the earth. I know I won the birth lottery when I was born in the USA…

But now, I must chose to be born again into the Kingdom of God. This is a Kingdom of Love seeking full expression “on earth as it is in heaven.” I have discovered that what our King said is profoundly true, “No one can serve 2 masters” (Matthew 6:24). Another way of saying that is, “You can only serve one Higher Power at a time.” (Dr. John MacDougal; Being Sober and Becoming Happy).

My loyalty to Kingdom values will always supersede my love for country. “For God and country” will never be my motto…

 “For God and Kingdom Come” is where I have planted the flag of my heart. 



Sunday, March 22, 2020

SANCTUARY: A Place of Refuge for Spiritual Refugees

Sunday Night Sanctuary
March 22, 2020

I’ve been painfully aware of the dwindling population among USA churches for the past 2 decades. Prior to that, I lived in a church fantasy world of believing the notion that if we would just, “win the lost at any cost” our pews would always be packed. Well Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore…

To be perfectly blunt right off the bat…the whole approach I just referenced is a value statement related to our decline. “They” versus “us” rather than the collective family of humankind in search of the Sacred, the Divine, the Beauty of God. Winning the lost often looked like counting how many people we could BS into saying the “sinner’s prayer” and receiving Jesus. I’m through with the bait and switch…as well as the other definition of BS.

A professional counselor friend of mine shared a parable fitting for this challenge: “If I’m strolling along a city sidewalk and suddenly I’m confronted with a scene of person after person leaping from a 3rd floor window, falling to certain injury or even death, I do not shame them angrily for being stupid enough to jump…NO! I quickly seek to determine what could be so bad on the 3rd floor of that building that makes jumping seem  preferential over staying up there! 

The church of the west continues to witness a steady “run for your lives” stampede from our once solid sanctuaries. Even a casual internet search bears out my point. Estimates range from 25% to 50% of the next 2 generations have exited organized Christianity. As a pastor of over 45 years, I admit the reality of my own participation in failing to seriously carry out and gather a collective healthy assessment of what could be so bad about who we are that would make a 3rd floor leap seem better than staying… 

As of January 2019 my wife and I left the church we pastored for 30 years and began a journey of discovery. We went out in search of “spiritual refugees”, or the “one sheep”, as described by Jesus. Our promise to any we would find was to “listen and love” as best as we could. No BS and no attempt to shame anyone back to the 3rd floor. Did we find dysfunctional excuses or blame without appropriate self evaluation? Of course! But I’d propose we are ALL  guilty of that, now and then. 

However, the great majority of those we have found represent a very real demand for an authentic renewal in the western Church. In ways great and small, multitudes are isolated within the church walls or simply walking away. They aren’t rebels flicking the bird at a steeple…they’re treasures with stories too compelling to ignore any longer. 

We were always supposed to be a “city of refuge” and a sanctuary for the pursuit of a beautiful spirituality. Many of them (myself included) believed the church would be a beautiful sanctuary for restoration but found too many sad compromises from that purpose to tolerate any longer. 

What compromises? Here’s a partial list of what my wife and I have discovered:

  1. Commitments to purity, culture wars, righteousness, and a determination to change everyone else to make them look like us. For instance, the “LGBTQ agenda” became our war cry against human beings made in the image of God rather than a construct for the potential of healthy, adult conversations. Think about it; the woman at the well (John 5) represented everything a good Jewish boy should shun! But Jesus took the risk of a healthy adult conversation that demonstrated his genuine interest in her life’s journey. I’ve learned to listen to ONE person sitting in front of me rather than fighting a group and their agenda. The more I fight a group, the less I’ll be trusted with one person coming to me with a trust for love. More to unpack about this at another time…
  2. Political marriage for the purpose of national influence. I do not care which side of the spectrum we’ve married, it was not a marriage made in heaven. “No one can serve 2 masters” according to Jesus, yet we’ve been determined to prove Him wrong. The Kingdom of God introduced by King Jesus can certainly participate and influence systems around us with salt and light…but we can only serve one higher power at a time. To hear some preach, you’d think the call to follow Jesus is stone cold equal to becoming a card carrying Republican. No! Two masters is one too many. More to unpack about this at a later time…
  3. Pure and simple ~ a failure to grow in an honest pursuit of LOVE. Loving our neighbor, our enemy, ourselves and God. Love; the final reality. Love alone is credible. Love; the ONE value Jesus proclaimed as THE value of His people. MUCH more to unpack about this at another time… 
In order to unpack the above (and more) we are offering Sunday Night Sanctuary. Stop by beginning Sunday March 22, 2020 at my Facebook page from 6pm to 7pm CST.

The definition of sanctuary is simply this; a sacred refuge and a space to become a whole spiritual human being. My wife and I want to do our best to provide that kind of space. A sacred place for becoming, belonging, and loving toward a dynamic of living beautifully and powerfully. During this time very Sunday night we’ll offer prayers, confessions, messages, and Communion toward that end. A brief Sanctuary to build upon for a lifetime of sanctuary Love. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Sunday Night Sanctuary

Sunday Night Sanctuary

As of January 2019 my wife and I left the church we pastored for 30 years and began a journey of discovery. We went out in search of “spiritual refugees”, or the “one sheep”, as described by Jesus. Our promise to any we would find was to “listen and love” as best as we could. 

At first we went out to meet one on one, then it progressed to a group, and then to other personal contacts as schedules and life allowed. We’ll still attempt all of the above but as life allows today, in the day of COVID-19, the idea struck us like the promise of Spring ~ meet online, via Facebook Live (to start off) and provide a Sanctuary; a spiritual refuge for these refugees. 

The definition of sanctuary is simply this; a sacred refuge and a space to become a whole spiritual human being. My wife and I want to do our best to provide that kind of space. A sacred place for becoming, belonging, soul food and loving toward a dynamic of living beautifully and powerfully. During this hour every Sunday night we’ll offer prayers, confessions, messages, and Communion toward that end. A brief Sanctuary to build upon for a lifetime of sanctuary Love. 

So, stop by beginning Sunday March 22, 2020 at my Facebook page from 6pm to 7pm CST.