Tagged: trinity

Impin’ Ain’t Easy

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, X, viii-x.

Not long ago, a certain boy found himself curiously free from the normal assault that accompanied the end of the school day. His walk home began no different than any day before. While always a bit like a gauntlet, on this day he made his way down the hallway with no interruptions. The uneventful moments were filled with the buzz of weekend plans, clangs of locking metal, and worshipful snickers other boys directed towards Billy as he downed a shooter and lit up before even leaving the building.

****

Teachers puzzled over the boy. He turned in flawless homework, and proved it was his own with perfect in-class test scores. But he would not speak while at school. The walk home, however, was a different matter altogether.

The boy had Christ in his heart, in his mind, and was not afraid to summon Him when necessary. The Devil knew this and called one of his Imps over to him.

“But we are powerless against that Name,” the Imp responded when challenged.

“I didn’t ask about your weaknesses, you fool!” the Devil seethed. “I gave you an order. Now go!”

****

“I’ve tried that!” Billy said. “I told you I’ll do what you ask, Imp, but I will not strike the boy. He has done me no harm. I like being able to use your powers, but this boy doesn’t seem affected by the curses you gave me. His Chri-”

“-Don’t!” the Imp interrupted violently. “Do not say that name. Ever! Do you not know what would happen to us? I’d be done for, and you’d be as powerless as you were when I found you unable to fight off your drunken father.”

Taking a swing at the Imp, Billy screamed, “Say one more thing about my dad and I’ll kill you!”

Leaning back to avoid the attack, the Imp’s eyes lit up as he watched Billy feed on rage. He feigned, “Sorry. I’m sorry. Just don’t ruin this, kid.”

“Okay, okay,” Billy said. “What’s the plan this time?”

“You’ve tried breaking his things?”

“Yes. I’ve broken and torched just about everything he has brought to school. He just replies, ‘You-know-who says, Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth...'”

“You’ve tried insulting him?”

“Yep. He just says, ‘You-know-who says, Blessed are you when people insult you.‘ I’m telling you, Imp, this boy is not like the others.”

The Imp and Billy sat and thought.

Visibly impatient, the Imp began, “Wait a minute, we’re working too hard. Let’s get lazy.”

“What do you mean?”

“Next time, instead of directly challenging the boy, I want you to give him something that will take his voice away.”

“Huh?”

“Yes,” the Imp whispered, as if to himself. Growing louder, he continued, “We’ve been going at this one all wrong. What’s the newest mirror-like thing that all your kind looks at?”

“I’m not sure what you mean?”

“ANSWER ME!” the Imp screeched. “That thing you all stare at when you are with each other? Your kind never used to do that. What’s it called?”

“My phone?”

“Yes,” the Imp said. “Your phone. Does the boy have one like yours?”

“I think so, but he doesn’t seem to care about it.”

“Fine, fine. Here’s what you do. Call him over to you and make friends with him. Tell him you’re sorry and you’d like to be his friend. Do what you have to to get him to look at his phone more and more. We’ll simply silence him.”

“Oh, I see your game now. Silence. Yes, I can do that. I even know just what will work.”

“He’ll be working against himself soon enough. Maybe I can even get that vacation I’ve always wanted,” the Imp fantasized.

****

“Hey, boy!” Billy said, “Can I get your number? I want to text you later about this Bible app my aunt installed on my phone.”

****

“No, no. Stay there another week. Enjoy yourself. The next round is on me. You earned it. Brilliant, I tell you. The boy went from three hundred mentions to just a single mention each week,” the Devil delighted. “The best part,” the Devil paused, wiping a tear as he laughed, “The best part is he thinks we’re losing!”

Being Dogmatic Is Not Giving Up

Receiving WordPress’s latest auto-reminder email that suggested I need to renew this blog made me feel like WP was growing impatient and about to put another persuasive turn into the vice. That said, I gave in, spilled the beans, forked over the cash–however you want to think of it–I succumbed to the belief that my words might matter. Here is an overdue post to mark the occasion.

My Evangelical, protestant, Christian seminary might just embody the most defeatist attitude I have ever seen.

As some of you know, I began to notice this after the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando (which occurred after 9/11, which occurred after the first attempt to knock out the Twin Towers in 1993).

As well-read academics, the professors and most of the students are aware of the English language’s five letter word “dogma.” But I am convinced they do not know what it means. Do you?

All I would like to suggest here is that dogma has nothing to do with giving up. Here at school, dogma is treated as the thing at the end of the argument. The fail-safe. When all else–when all logic, when all argumentation–fails, the Christian simply declares, “dogma.” Come to think of it, it’s almost used like saying “uncle” when wrestling around with older siblings or cousins. (Or Uncle Bob).

This approach, dogma as the fail-safe, is a grave, grave mistake. Ohio State was another data point.

The Christian knows we have the victory in Christ. That’s primary and ever will be. Start there and end there. Never stray from there.

The tangible way to do this is with Christian love. With the only real love. With the love that is rooted in the Cross.

The conversational way to do this is asking questions until you demonstrated that you actually are listening and curious to discover what he or she thinks. Don’t stop when he repeats Wolf Blitzer or Obama or Trump or Clinton or Megyn Kelly (why is she in the headlines so much?) or John Stewart or Trevor Noah or John Oliver or whoever. I don’t even watch TV and I can’t help but hear what these people think. And I don’t care what they think. I don’t know them. Neither does the person you’re talking to. Keep questioning. Become an expert in listening.

It is our Christian duty to restore dignity to people. It is our Christian duty to announce the available redemption. This starts with Christ, not fails with Christ.

Being dogmatic does not mean giving up. It means honesty. It means integrity. It means that from the ‘get go,’ you proclaim, “I know my assumptions. Do you know yours?”

One final way I can offer to help re-frame ‘dogma’ in your mind is by comparing it to confidence. Think of any person you would call confident. Then ask yourself, “Would anything meaningfully different be communicated if I called them dogmatic?”

Michael Jordan = confident or dogmatic? Trump = confident or dogmatic? Obama = confident or dogmatic? Your pastor = confident or dogmatic? Your military members = confident or dogmatic? Joel Osteen = confident or dogmatic? Moses = confident or dogmatic? Muhammad = confident or dogmatic? Paul = confident or dogmatic? Martin Luther = confident or dogmatic? Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, any A-List Actor or Actress etc.

Confident living is not silent. Dogmatic living is not giving up.

Being dogmatic is not giving up. Christians, don’t give up.

Response To Pew Research Center Study On Why We’re Giving Up On God.

As you’re no doubt aware, we’re giving up on God. Why? The research group “Pew” knows.

If you’re a redeemed sinner, washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ, and it pains you to see so many other sinners harden their hearts, close their eyes, and cover their ears, please keep reading. In response to Pew’s findings, I’m going to do my best to give you some tips on how to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with folks similar to those Pew surveyed.

(RFL is ‘reason for leaving’ and GR is ‘Gospel Response’.)

RFL 1: Learning about evolution when I went away to college.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ literally has nothing to say about evolution. Not in an “evolution is wrong” sense, but in a “the Gospel of Jesus Christ also has nothing to say about Harry Potter’s prowess in a quidditch match” sense. 

RFL 2: Too many Christians doing un-Christian things.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is literally the good news that un-Christian things can be forgiven. 

RFL 3: Religion is the opiate of the people.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. Good news is not a substance or thing that I put into my body.

RFL 4: Rational thought makes religion go out the window.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ literally has nothing to say about rational thought. Not in a “rational thought is wrong” sense, but in a “the Gospel of Jesus Christ also has nothing to say about the fact that Batman’s costume switched colors from blue and grey to black over the years” sense.

RFL 5: Lack of any sort of scientific evidence of a creator.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ literally has nothing to say about science. Not in a “science is wrong” sense, but in a “the Gospel of Jesus Christ also has nothing to say about Christian Grey’s preference for BDSM” sense.

RFL 6: I just realized somewhere along the line that I really didn’t believe it.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ literally is the good news that there is hope–even if we don’t believe it.

RFL 7: I’m doing a lot more learning, studying, and kind of making decisions myself rather than listening to someone else.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ literally has nothing to say about learning, studying, and making decisions by yourself. Not in a “learning, studying, and making decisions yourself is wrong” sense, but in a “the Gospel of Jesus Christ also has nothing to say about Rocky Balboa’s decision to train Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son” sense.

RFL 8: I just believe that religion is a very personal conversation with me and my creator.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. The ability to have a personal conversation with your creator is not good news. Muhammad had a very personal conversation with Allah. 

RFL 9: I don’t have a particular religion because I am open-minded and I don’t think there is one particular religion that is right or wrong. 

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. The fact that you can have an open mind and/or choose to not condemn a certain religion as “wrong” is not good news. Muhammad didn’t condemn a certain religion as wrong; he just agreed that other religions were on to something. Being “on to something” is not good news, either.

RFL 10: I don’t have time to go to church.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a calendar event that you find time for in the same sense that bad news is not a calendar event that you find time for.

To Lighten The Mood

Two slaves to the Qur’an walked into a bar. No, wait. It was a Christian church in France. And they killed a priest.

President Obama says Islam is one of the great religions.

Nothing to see here folks. Just make sure you DVR your programs tonight so you don’t miss a moment of the illusion that nothing is the matter.

On to the promised lightening of the mood.

****

This morning after H-‘s piano lesson, we were walking to our car when a police car slowed as it drove by. The officer rolled down his window and said, “I just wanted to let you know there is a dog on the loose that is biting people.”

I said, “Thanks. We’re outta here anyhow.”

He waved and went on his way.

H- asked, “What’d he say?”

I answered, “Apparently there is a dog on the loose that is biting people.”

H- said, “Oh.”

About five minutes into our car ride, H- admitted, “I didn’t know dogs went to jail.”

****

Better than any light than H- can shine is the one that emanates from the Lord and Savior of the Universe, Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).”

Get Behind Me, Satan

Heavenly Father, in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, I beg for mercy, for I am a sinner.

The context of this homily’s title is below.

Matthew 16:20-23 reads, “From that time on Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Far be it from You, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to You!” But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For you do not have in mind the things of God (Yahweh), but the things of men.”

Let’s talk about Peter. He was the disciple from whom Jesus rebuked Satan. Then the resurrection happens and Peter changes (repents) his tune. Here’s account recorded in Acts.

Acts 2:1-14 reads, “When the day of Pentecost came, they (the believers who came to be called Christians over time) were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw tongues like flames of a fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem God (Yahweh)-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.  And when this sound rang out, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking his own language. In wonder and amazement, they asked, ‘Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? How is it then that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,a Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism; Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the mighty works of God (Yahweh) in our own tongues!’

Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’

But others mocked them and said, ‘They are drunk on new wine!’

Then Peter stood up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and addressed the crowd: ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen carefully to my words. These men are not drunk as you suppose. It is only the third hour of the day!‘”

Christians, like the Apostle Peter, we need to stand up, lift our voice, and address the mocking crowd.

Have you seen that Islam hasn’t violently attacked the West yet today? Do you feel safer?

I don’t. And because I don’t I’ve been trying to figure out why not. My investigation has led to the development of a litmus test regarding the recent terrorist attacks and Islam. Ask your friends and family members if they are interested in defeating Islam/Terrorism through non-violence. If they respond, “Non-violence will never defeat Islam/Terrorism,” then you know whose side they’re on and need to preach the Gospel. If they respond, “It isn’t Islam/Terrorism that’s the problem,” then you know whose side they’re on and need to preach the Gospel. If they respond, “Yes,” then preach the Gospel.

As a refresher, the Gospel is the history of the Jews as recorded in the Old Testament culminating in Peter’s explanation to the Israelites who heard “Yahweh”–their god, and only their god–when Peter says God in Acts 2,

“Men of Israel, listen to this message: Jesus of Nazareth was a man certified by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know. He was handed over by God’s set plan and foreknowledge, and you, by the hands of the lawless, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead, releasing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for Him to be held in its clutches.

David says about Him:

‘I saw the Lord always before me;

because He is at my right hand,

I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad

and my tongue rejoices,

my body also will live in hope,

because You will not abandon my soul to Hades,

nor will You let Your Holy One see decay.

You have made known to me the paths of life,

You will fill me with joy in Your presence.’

Brothers, I can tell you with confidence that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that He would place one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did His body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, to which we are all witnesses.

Exalted, then, to the right hand of God, He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into heaven, but he himself says:

‘The Lord said to my Lord,

Sit at My right hand,

until I make Your enemies

a footstool for Your feet.’”

Peter then concludes,

“Therefore let all Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ!”

Hallelujah and Amen!

Let’s keep talking about truth. To do this, I want to ask a question. This question should be simple, but I’ve come to realize that we’re inclined to make it difficult. Resist the inclination. When I announce that I love pizza, as I have done many times, does that mean that I love food? In other words, when I say, “I love pizza,” can you declare, “Pete loves food.” Please resist complicating this. When I declare that I love pizza, does that mean that I love food? The answer is no. That I love pizza does not mean you can tell me (or any others) that I love food. The reason you cannot, is you do not have enough information, at least not yet. All you know so far is that I love pizza.

The truth is, Muhammad, via the Qur’an, lied when he told the world that Moses and Peter loved god (Allah) because he (Muhammad) knew that they worshiped their god (Yahweh/Trinity respectively). Muhammad lied. Muhammad invented Allah, the same way someone invented 0 and another person invented the airplane. 0 and the airplane and Allah do not exist in nature. The Trinity does exist. All glory be to the Blessed Trinity.

As a sidebar, all this talk of that cheesy, bready delight has me wondering, did you know that, “Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’ (John 6:35)?”

Christians, I’m teaching you about the truth because I’m worried about you. I have heard you say, “Well, religion is a personal matter,” when asked about Islam.

Religion is not a personal matter. Religion is the most public matter there is. Moreover, I believe the Triune god of Christianity calls me to tell you religion is the most public matter there is. “What makes you believe the Triune god called you to tell us this?” you ask. That’s a fair question. Consider that the historical record indicates that the Holy Bible was written over the course of at least 1300 years and has around 40 unique men. Then consider that the Qur’an was written within only one lifetime, by only one man. Do you see?

Unlike Christianity’s claim that religion is the most public matter there is, Islam began after Muhammad demonstrated that he thought religion was a personal matter. But Muhammad is dead and buried. And Christianity claims that the entire Holy Bible is the story of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected (marvelous to relate). Yet, We’re still living. While you’re alive are you siding with Muhammad or with Truth? Is religion a public matter like Christianity suggests? Or is religion a private matter for folks to tinker with in their free time like Muhammad suggested?

Your words matter. So be careful what you say, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:12).”

Finally, if you’re with Truth, if Jesus is your Lord and Savior, it’s clearly time to defeat Islam. How do we do it? Paul tells us how in Ephesians 6:17, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of (the Triune) God.”

To my mind, this command, taken together the public nature of religion, entails reading the Holy Bible out loud.

Do you belong to a church? START a ministry called “Ephesians 6:17”. CREATE a sign-up sheet (the internet should make this part easy), and EXHORT Christians to sign up for 30 minute blocks of time to read the Holy Bible from Genesis through Revelation (then repeat), around the clock. INVOLVE the kids. They can’t read well as it is–this will be good practice for them. DO NOT let Satan bog you down in the details of which version. Whichever version the believer can easily read is the one to use (I think you’ll like the NIV, but, again, just READ.) For children, consider the New International Readers Version or New Century Version if you haven’t heard of them. They’re both the complete Holy Bible (unlike some Bible-based storybooks that are out there), they just employ, der, use an easier vocabulary.

I haven’t enacted this at my church yet (the ideas are coming fast and aplenty these days), but I’ll let you know the logistics which we work out as we work them out. The goal is 24/7, eternal flame style, reading. I believe the goal is worthy and practical, but I am not sure that is how it will begin with 24/7 application. And I’m not talking loud speakers. Just someone reading at normal reading volume all the time.

Lastly, never and I mean, never forget, “But thanks be to (the Triune) God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:57-58).”

Heavenly Father, ANOINT us with Your Holy Spirit. GIVE us strength and wisdom–not the idea of strength and the idea of wisdom–but real strength and real wisdom. We ask that you Give them to us for use right now! Father Almighty, not tomorrow. In the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, we ask that You SOFTEN our hearts so that we can understand that with Islam, like lust, our minds (our imagination), not our bodies, are the home of the abhorrent sin. MAKE the very earth beneath our feet and the very unstoppable bullets we formed from that earth with our own hands, in order to kill each other, REMIND us that the world You created is more real than any of the worlds we can imagine. REMIND us of this as we, like Peter before us, stand and lift our voice against both Islam and the false idea of an Allah in whatever form it manifests itself. LET the Truth of Jesus Christ shine from us like Light upon darkness as we endeavor to accomplish Your will. Amen.

Speak The Truth

Heavenly Father, in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, I come before you asking that I might be nothing in order for You to be everything. Anoint these words with Your Holy Spirit that they might be a blessing to their readers. Amen.

Those of you who are old might be surprised to learn that recently a rock band called Disturbed released a cover of Simon and Garfunkle’s classic Sound of Silence. The duo has never confessed what they were talking about, but I believe the “flash of a neon light” that stabbed their eyes is television. The song is only coherent if the television is what created the silence. So TURN OFF your television! EXPERIENCE life. SPEAK the truth!

Later, there is a particularly chilling line, “‘Fools!’ said I, ‘You do not know! / Silence like a cancer grows.'”

BBC says the killer acted alone. But ISIS tweeted a message supporting the attack. What the heck is going on?

Allah’s will is what is going on. And it has been going on for far too long. It is time for every Christian to speak the truth. Islam is not the truth. Jesus Christ is the Truth. Allah (god) does not exist. The Trinity does exist.

Islam is terrorism and Allah is pure evil.

The Qur’an is a lie. It is a lie because Muhammad inaccurately reported known historical realities. Despite what Muhammad wrote, Moses worshiped Yahweh, not Allah. Despite what Muhammad wrote, the apostles preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not Allah. These empirical realities, unlike whether or not Moses and the apostles were telling the truth, are the only evidence you need to debunk Islam and its claim that Moses and the Apostles were Muslims. Even the bogus idea that I heard while growing up (and recently) that Islam is the merely the offshoot of Abraham’s first biological son, Ishmael, whereas Judaism is the offshoot of Abraham’s first-born son to Sarah, Isaac, is a lie. The Qur’an claims Isaac was a Muslim, just like it claims Ishmael, Moses, Jacob, and Jesus were Muslims.

The truth is that we are in a spiritual war. Do you see?

Try this. Assume for a moment that I’m right and there is an adversary (Satan). Is the adversary pleased or frustrated by war in the Middle East? Naturally the adversary is pleased. Is the adversary pleased or frustrated when Christian men and women are lured into the fight? Naturally the adversary is pleased.

But what’s the truth about Munich (and Orlando and Nice and NYC…)? Are Islam and ISIS responsible? Or are these killers lone wolves like BBC claims? Islam and ISIS are absolutely responsible regardless of whether the killers were lone wolves. Do you see? They are responsible because they claim to be responsible. That’s the way Islam has worked from the beginning. Islam was built by asserting a lie–the Qur’an–and it is a lie. Allah does not exist.

One more question. Is the adversary pleased or frustrated that ISIS is lying when it claims responsibility for these attacks? Think about it. The adversary operates exactly in this manner!–violence, distortion, confusion, but most importantly lies!

So, Christians, START speaking the truth. ADMIT that Islam cannot be defeated by violence. PROCLAIM the Gospel. Finally, STOP believing Islam is here to stay. In the same manner that all other gods have been debunked (seriously, what god has a following besides Yahweh/Trinity and Allah?), Allah can be debunked. It’s time to debunk it. Let’s FREE the Muslims from Allah’s will. In the name of Jesus Christ we can do it!

The Trinity that is revealed in the Holy Bible is not like a cancer. Islam is.

Speak the truth.

Speak the truth. H- (and your children) need more than me to protect her. Speak the truth. It is your calling.

Black Lives Matter

Here’s another way to explain how I (a diligent Evangelical Christian seminary student) interpret the passing scene.

Blacks are being killed by law enforcement in a newsworthy manner. They, then and rightfully, became angry and began to protest and to draw more attention to the killings. Someone, somewhere thought “Black Lives Matter” was catchy and accurately communicated what blacks are feeling. It proved to be catchy for sure, but non-blacks could not tell what it means. Rather than ask a black what they meant, they adhered to post-modern thinking and assigned the phrase whatever thought they thought it meant. Given that fear was the catalyst behind the initial killings, the fear only grew. The only reason I, Pete in the flesh and blood, am any wiser on the passing scene than you, is that I joined a black Christian church about 2 years ago and humbly sought understanding, I learned and confirmed that what blacks mean by “Black Lives Matter” is “Ouch”. Upon learning this, it makes total sense why tensions have only risen and now blacks are killing police. (And now it is apparent that no one was ever really killing over skin color, but culture. This explains why white culture blacks aren’t being killed, and why black police officers are being killed. This also happens to perfectly cohere with how evil works. Evil feeds on fear.)

But, like I’ve said and demonstrated throughout my 35 years of life, I hate being afraid. I refuse to do it at nearly all costs. Proof of this is that I flew combat missions, I worked in the oil fields, and I managed a strip club. Most people, but especially most white people, do not hate fear like I do. In other words, most white people are afraid. How else do you explain the suburbs? Rather than facing fear, they (we) ran. Fear is the reason the blacks are being killed, and fear is what prevents us (white culture) from asking a stranger from black culture what the heck they mean when they say something that seems racist, in response to the newsworthy killings.

White culture: Black Lives Matter is not a liberal movement–it is a liberating movement. Christians especially, we need to understand the Gospel and the freedom from fear that the Cross released. There is hope. Repent! In the name of Jesus Christ, repent.

Captain's Log

The weapons on the MH-53 that I flew in Iraq (while a captain and pilot in the Air Force…I’m standing third from the right in the last photo in that video) were for defensive purposes only. We had three machine guns, all manned by enlisted aircrew (sweaties). Essentially, our missions were supposed to be secret, so in theory, no one (friend or enemy) knew that we were doing our thing. But, on the off chance that we misplanned the route or miscalculated the threats, we had some guns with which to attempt to stay alive whilst completing the mission.

The crews I was a part of never came under direct fire in any of my ten months of combat missions. Well, I take that back. There was one mission where our formation came under fire, probably just from one pissed-off Iraqi who didn’t realize what he was up against. In response, my tail…

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Black Lives Matter

The weapons on the MH-53 that I flew in Iraq (while a captain and pilot in the Air Force…I’m standing third from the right in the last photo in that video) were for defensive purposes only. We had three machine guns, all manned by enlisted aircrew (sweaties). Essentially, our missions were supposed to be secret, so in theory, no one (friend or enemy) knew that we were doing our thing. But, on the off chance that we misplanned the route or miscalculated the threats, we had some guns with which to attempt to stay alive whilst completing the mission.

The crews I was a part of never came under direct fire in any of my ten months of combat missions. Well, I take that back. There was one mission where our formation came under fire, probably just from one pissed-off Iraqi who didn’t realize what he was up against. In response, my tail gunner managed to fire off a few rounds before he ran out of azimuth (line of sight) but our sister-ship’s gunner was able to kill the man. Like most of these stories, the event was over before it began. (I remember filling out the flight record more clearly than I remember the event.) And the biggest “lesson learned” for me was yet another confirmation that multi-tasking is impossible.

You see, piloting an aircraft safely requires a deliberate cross-check of many, many things. How’s my altitude? How’s my heading? How’s my airspeed? Etc. In the beginning of pilot training, your cross-check is slow and everyone on board, including the student, can tell. This is because the aircraft is too high, too low, too fast, too slow, out of trim, or what have you. But over time, you speed up your cross-check and consequently begin to control the aircraft professionally. However, throughout the cross-check, you are never doing more than one thing at a time. Instead, you just learn to do each single thing very quickly. This impossibility of multi-tasking is why black lives matter.

White people: listen up. Regarding “Black Lives Matter”, you’re not getting it. And because you’re not getting it, police officers are dying. Luckily, as a Christian, because of my faith in the Triune god, I have the Holy Spirit on my side and believe I can help us. Through diligent conversation with friends at the seminary and friends at church (a black baptist church) I believe I understand the problem. It’s a translation problem. I will translate for you what blacks mean.

When a black person says or holds up a sign which reads, “Black Lives Matter,” you need to merely hear/read the word, “Ouch.” However, if you come across any non-blacks who are brave enough say or hold a sign that reads, “Black Lives Matter,” know that they mean just that–black lives matter. Do you see?

Blacks are saying, “Ouch, that hurts. Why are you doing that?” This is no different than when my formation was fired upon. When our formation felt an “ouch,” we all turned our focus to the most pressing problem until it was neutralized. When we were being fired upon, all I cared about was airspeed. We needed to get away as fast as we could. Likewise, right now, blacks are being killed. And they’re being killed by us–by whites. Unfortunately, unlike my formation being fired upon by an enemy outside our aircraft which could be killed, the enemy is inside us. Our racism is what needs to die.

So how do we kill our racism? Here’s a simple solution. We need to stop saying, “I don’t see color.” We need to stop saying that because, unless you’re blind, it’s a lie. Instead we need to say, “I see color and I think it’s beautiful.” But there’s a catch. If we tell the truth and admit that we do see color, and yet we have no meaningful interaction with the Black community, then this little assertion proves to be a lie too. Because it necessarily follows that we don’t think color is beautiful if we don’t have it in our lives.

To summarize: first, when a black person says, “Black Lives Matter”, hear or read “Ouch.” Second, stop lying. See color and learn to find it beautiful. If you’re Christian, this is part of your calling.

One last thing. White people: stop saying you have black friends. Even if we “really do (honestly!)”, that’s evidently not meaningful. We need a black family. We need black people in our lives who we eat with even when we’re mad at each other. We need black people in our life with whom we take long car rides. We need black people in our lives with whom we mourn the loss of a loved one. We need black people in our lives with whom we celebrate a wedding and a birth. Again, we need a black family.

Luckily for Christians, Jesus Christ–the Word made Flesh–provides us just such a family. It’s called the church. If you regularly attend a church, voice your desire to interact with black churches. But if you don’t regularly attend, or haven’t in some time, then visit some black churches and in humility of heart join the one you like the best.

Hopefully you now see how unconscionable it is to believe “Black Lives Matter” is a divisive, racist phrase. Blacks are saying, “Ouch,” and we’re replying, “Well, you’re causing it!” Just stop. Stop being willfully blind and start seeing.

New Direction

I just wanted to be clear about the new direction of my blog. First, it is decidedly becoming a place for Christians to find encouragement. Second, I plan on sharing screen-less leisure time ideas for families. We’re addicted to screens. If we’re not looking at them together, we’re looking at them separately. And if we’re not looking at them at all, we’re talking about them. Enough, I say. We can do better.

First up is the game Sequence. It is essentially tick-tack-toe with playing cards. It is only mildly mentally taxing, which is to say it is a great lubricant for sustained conversation and relationship building. Letting the five-year-olds play makes it even more pleasant.  

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4 Juxtapositions Every American Christian Needs To Consider

TrinityShield2To begin I’d like to simply ask you to declare with me how holy the blessed Trinity is. Amen.

(I found this little, kinda creepy, picture the other day. It’s called the Trinity Shield. Christians of old used it to help describe the Trinity.)

As you know, I’m on a bit of a righteous anger kick right now (Eph. 4). It began with a conviction that President Obama was doing us dirty when he angrily defended his decision to not say “Radical Islam” and described Islam as, “One of the world’s great religions.” It continued when I finally read the Qur’an to determine whether Islam is the threat that I felt it the empirical facts seemed to indicate.

I’m slowly calming down, but it has taken longer than I expected. Here’s where I’m at today. If I haven’t told you before, I’m at my best when I have things to compare. Maybe you are too. So, let’s compare some things.

1. First, Christians sometimes sing, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Until I read the Qur’an, I believed that song to be true. Now I don’t. By that I mean that it’s not the Bible that revealed to me that Jesus loves me. I know Jesus loves me because He told me He does. Muslims, on the other hand, believe Allah notices them because a book (and a man with a deadly weapon) tells them to. This is no trivial distinction.

2. Here’s another: From what I can tell, beginning around 1000 AD, Christian philosophers and apologists began to offer logical arguments which prove god exists. Growing up in a Christian home in America, I charitably believed the arguments must be valid and valuable. As an adult who has read the Qur’an, I am certain abstract god (Allah) does not exist. I’m also certain that humans don’t prove the Triune god exists. The best that humans can do with abstract god (Allah) is enslave each other. Conversely, the Triune god tells us He exists.

3. How’s your math history? As a 21st century American, I learned that humans didn’t always know that the number zero existed as an abstraction. I learned that it wasn’t until the early 7th century, that mathematicians formally named zero and began to use it in previously unrealized ways in calculations (more than just a placeholder). But only since reading the Qur’an have I realized that precisely identical to zero (which is nothing), Allah is an incredibly powerful abstraction.

(For the curious Christians, I do also believe it is more than coincidence that Muhammad wrote the Qur’an in the same century that zero was realized. The number zero shook up the world. And the Qur’an did so as well. Satan is very real. Guard yourselves.)

4. We’ve touched on theology and math. Let’s hit literature. Some people, even Christians, want to argue that the Bible is a great piece of literature. Before reading the Qur’an, I would have agreed. Since reading the Qur’an, I know the truth is that the Qur’an is the greatest, most powerful piece of literature on the planet. Outside of Barna research articles showing why Christians are leaving the church and the ever increasing amount of exorcisms being performed, Christianity is barely newsworthy anymore. However, the Qur’an is spreading to western Europe and America, despite the greatest military force, including yours truly, fighting the Qur’an for at least 30 years now. Want to talk about great, powerful literature? Then study the Qur’an. It is tops. Want to talk about true power? Then repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2).

Here’s the rub. The Triune god told me He wins in the end (the Bible). He told me not to fear when the going gets rough (Psalm 27). But He didn’t tell me my suffering must be at the hands of the Qur’an. Maybe I misheard him. What did he tell you?

Do any of you Christians believe we have the power to relocate the Qur’an to the fiction section once and for all? I do.

Call(s) to Action: PRAY. Then immediately be sure to SPECIFY that you are referring to the Triune god, or the Trinity, or Jesus when you’re talking about the Christian godhead outside of church. This includes church signs. (Here’s a good example.) When you’re in church, PAY ATTENTION to the lyrics and BRING UP your concerns directly to the music ministry. The music ministry can’t fix what they don’t know is broken. Whatever the case, DO NOT LEAVE your church. Pray. Pray and TAKE ON more responsibility. Stay put. “Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:14).”

The Triune god of the universe cares about words. So does the adversary. This is evidenced by scripture from Genesis through Revelation. I love Jesus Loves Me. (Really, I do. I memorized a sweet piano arrangement of it.) But I love Jesus more than a catchy tune. So maybe it’s time to drop it. On the other hand, This Little Light of Mine is safe because of context.

Hopefully these little comparisons are useful and challenge to you to fulfill your calling.