Friday, November 4, 2016 2 cents about this election coming up...

I am highly passionate about politics.  I get into the nuts and bolts of policy and I really do believe that what is going to happen electorally on Tuesday November 8th will indeed have far-reaching consequences for every person in our country.  Yet, I have not done that much posting on Facebook about my political opinions and that which is my desire for the outcome of the upcoming election.  Around friends with whom I know that I disagree politically, I will absolutely have discussions and we can have very interesting conversations; yet I try to always halt the conversation before it gets heated; and I'll tell you why - I firmly believe that the Lord is far more important than what is going to happen on November 8th; and I am convinced that we are putting way too much importance on who will be stewarding our Federal government for the next 4 years and way too little importance on the God who not only stewards - but holds this entire creation together; and our lack of priority is corroding that which is very important - our relationships with one another.  

Let me try and explain.  I have been blessed in my Facebook friend list to have many Trump supporters and many Hillary supporters.  I find some of the articles posted interesting and I laugh at many of the political memes.  And, if that's all that was going on - people sharing their political thoughts and all, then what I am about to write would be unnecessary.  However, I see much more.

I see much of what people post - and a lot of it is downright hateful: And through this electoral season I have encountered people from both sides basically write something along the lines of, "I simply cannot be friends with anyone who would vote for _____."  I have seen some people simply astonished at those with whom they disagree.  "What!  You're one of them...."  I have seen friendships of years vanish publicly over differing political philosophies.  It is pitiful.

I have seen people become downright vicious with those whom they disagree.  I do not think I am alone in this - I believe you have seen it as well.  [On a side note - I think we have to keep in mind that we are not safe from enacting cruelty while we type behind our computers.  What we write behind our computers is read by someone else behind their's.  We need to keep that in mind before we post something...]

I decided at the beginning stages of this election to follow the advice of the Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 2:2, "I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."  You see, I already know that He is the rock of offense; and if you are going to dislike me or unfriend me, I hope it is because of my adoration for Him; not my affinity for a political figure.  I yearn to be defined by my love for Jesus - not my love for a political party or a political candidate; because this is what I know - no matter who is elected on November 8th, this world is going to remain sinful and is desperately in need of the knowledge of the Savior.

That is not to say that I think that what happens with this election is unimportant.  I do not believe that.  I believe it is very important.  I simply do not believe it is of paramount importance; and my focus ought always to be on that which is paramount; perhaps better stated - He who is paramount.

Take a deep breathe and look at the nations of the world.  Find the nation that is sinless. [hint - there isn't one.]  Find the nation that has somehow found the secret to governing so well that ALL its people prosper. [Hint - there isn't one].

I know that many of my friends yearn for government as it was when we were founded.  Most of my friends that want that though...are not black.  I would not want to be black and live at the founding of our nation.  That would suck. Badly.

I know that many of my friends yearn for government to give, "rights" to more and more people.  Yet...a government that bestows rights - has control over those rights.  That is terrifying.  According to the Declaration of Indpendence, [of which my Bible agrees in this point] my rights are given to me by God - not government.  It is government's duty to protect rights - not bestow them.  Government needs to stop in the box given it by God.  An ever encroaching government is no good.  At all.

One of the things I find so impressive about Jesus is that when He physically walked the earth 2000 years ago, his political nation was under military occupation by an invading Pagan force.  Yet, in the Gospels, Jesus spends absolutely zero time talking about this political reality.  I truly believe I know why.  It wasn't worth His time.  You see, Rome today [the military force that occupied Israel at the time of Jesus] is simply a city in Italy today.  It is but a mere fleabite of what it once was.  Yet, the people that Jesus engaged with at that time are eternally enjoying heaven or eternally suffering in hell.  Cities fall.  Nations todder.  But people live forever.

Have you ever wondered why the greatest commandment - and the 2nd - are what they are?  For those of you that do not know them they can be found in Mark 12:30-31, "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."  Do you want to know why these are the greatest commandments? The answer is actually quite simple - they deal with that which is eternal - God and your neighbor.

I do not want to lose friends over politics.  As a matter of fact, I can assuredly tell you that as long as you desire friendship - it will never end simply because of your political views.  I make that promise.
Beloved, I know a few things most assuredly:

1.  This world is sinful.  I am a part of this sinful world.  Therefore, I am part of the problem.  There is only one cure for it - and His name is Jesus.  I must strive to love Him.

2.  People are very important.  Love them.

One last impressive thing about Jesus.  He chose some interesting characters to be a part of His 12 Disciples.  Two that are pertinent to this blog post and impress me are Simon the Zealot and Matthew the Tax Collector.  For those that are not familiar with Biblical history, a Zealot was an individual that was part of a faction of individuals at the time of Christ that wanted to overthrow the Romans - by any means necessary.  They were militaristic and violent.

Jewish Tax Collectors were hated by the regular Jewish layman at the time of Jesus.  They were traitors to their country in that they paid the Roman government for the, "privilege" of being a customs officer and taxing the Jews.  They would often take more than what was demanded of them by the Romans and enrich themselves on the backs of the poor Jews that were being oppressed.

Jesus could have chosen anyone to be His followers.  I smile when I think of the first night when Simon and Matthew are at the same table as Jesus' disciples.  Just a few days prior Simon would have wanted to kill Matthew and Matthew would have wanted to hand Simon over...but now - after an encounter with Jesus - they were on the same spiritual team.  That, my friends, is impressive.

I want to work on being that kind of guy.  I am far from it now.  But Lord, I pray I will get closer.  I will do my Christian duty and vote.  I will pray for the direction of this nation. I will most likely stay up late on election night watching the returns.  I am interested.  But Lord, let me not be too interested...

Your friend,


Monday, July 18, 2016

#BlackLivesMatter #AllLivesMatter #Hate #Love.

I have hesitated to write or blog about any of what has been happening in the news lately simply because so much has already been written and so much has already been said.  However, I thought that as a Christian and as a pastor it would be important for me to write down a couple of things.

The first thing I want to write about is:


I am not here going to discuss any particular methods used by the powers that be in the movement, nor any possible extreme elements of the movement.  I am here going to simply discuss the words and philosophy behind many regular people who say, "black lives matter."

I think the best way to put this so that all people would understand the thinking behind the movement is this:  Everyone who knows me knows that I am Pro-Life.  I absolutely, unequivocally, unquestionably believe that human personhood begins at the conception of egg and sperm inside of a woman.  From the very first cell-division, personhood begins.  Therefore to take a pill to eradicate that conception, to physically go inside of a woman and eradicate this life, is to commit murder.  Therefore, I believe that over 54 million human beings in our country have been willfully murdered.  In this way, I absolutely believe that the powers that be in this country, the structures of our country, do not believe that babies lives matter.

Now, imagine me standing outside of a Planned Parenthood facility - a facility dedicated, in my mind, to infanticide.  Imagine me holding a sign that says, #BabiesLivesMatter.  You would get what I was saying.  I don't think anyone would say to me, "hey-are you trying to say that adults' lives don't matter?  Are you denying the importance of adults?"  No...people would get that I was staking out a position - that this is a place that does not care about babies.  This is a place that indiscriminately kills babies.  Therefore, to highlight that babies' lives do not matter here, I am making the statement that, "Babies matter."

In this way I see that many in the #AllLivesMatter movement and the #BlackLivesMatter movement are talking past each other.  They are not even having the same discussion.

I have many parishioners in the congregation of which I serve that are black.  I happen to live in a County in Maryland where the majority of people that live here are black.  I have spoken to many [not all] but many of the black parishioners I serve - and many of the black parishioners which I serve as their pastor expressed to me that they do not believe that their lives mattered to the powers that be in our society as much as other people's lives.  Many expressed that as far as law enforcement is concerned, as far as opportunity is concerned, as far as the structures of society are concerned, they do not feel as though their lives mattered as much as others.  The great majority in the Black Lives Matter movement are simply pointing to what they believe is their experience - and their experience is that they do not believe that they are treated equitably and fairly.

Now, this is either true or false.  Just as my above example of abortion being murder is true or false. If abortion is not murder, than I am saying Babies' lives matter one is treating them as if they do not.  If Abortion is murder, then I need to highlight the infanticide under our nose, I need to work tirelessly to help mothers who are considering abortion to carry to term and value life, and I need to work tirelessly to educate people on the importance of babies.  I will continue to advocate that laws are passed that value human life.  I will not back down - because I believe that to back down would be to passively say that murder is ok.

The same goes with this movement.  If black people are treated by the powerful in our country as less valuable, then that absolutely, unequivocally needs to be addressed.  If it is false, then we need to address the falsehood head on.  I am not going answer the question whether this claim is true or false.  That is actually not the point of the post.  However, that is the real question being asked.  At the very least, let us have a discussion about the real question.  I am very tired of seeing people build very weak straw men and then easily knocking them down.  The question is not, "do all lives matter?"  The question is not, "do black lives matter more than other people's lives?"  Perhaps fringe people think that.  Perhaps people are co-opting the movement to say that.  However, I do not believe any reasonable person is trying to say that - on either side of the issue, I do not believe anyone is saying that.

However, this leads me to my calling as a Christian.  As a Christian I am called to love my neighbor as I love myself.  Remember it was our Lord that said in Luke 6:27-36, ""But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. "If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful."

With this in mind, if I knew that my neighbor thought that Christians were jerks who were judgy and mean, I would be compelled to go the extra mile with that neighbor to show, to the best of my ability, that I, as a Christian, love them.  If I know that they have a pre-conceived notion about me, I take extra care with them.  This is love.  If I know that my black friends and neighbors believe that they are being singled out and treated as if they are, "bad" off the bat, then for the love of God go the extra mile with them.  Tell them you love them.  Tell them you care about them.  Tell them that you cannot solve all of society's ills, but you can tell them that you love them and value them.

If I know that the police in my area are on edge and they feel attacked and hated by the community which they serve, I, as a Christian, believe it is my absolute duty to take greater care as I deal with them.  If I get pulled over, I answer, "yes officer" and "no officer" and give them the utmost respect.  When I see an officer I say, "thank you for your service."  I also have police officers in my own family, and I can say first hand that what they do is indispensable.  This is what is called being Christian - loving those who are hurting.  If I know you are hurting, I am called to be a person of care, not anger.

Beloved, we must remember that there are a great many people that make money off of our anger.  They need us to keep watching.  They want to make us angry because they believe that keeping us divided into groups and sub/groups will keep them in power.  Division is not the work of God - it is the work of the enemy.  Remember that.  Your anger gets them to have you in their grip, but it gets us no closer to Christ and our neighbor.

Please know that I am not here advocating for any government program or political persuasion.  I am writing as a Christian.  I serve a God who loves us so much that though we did not care about Him, though in thought, word, and deed we treated Him as if His life did not matter, He came down from heaven and became one of us.

I serve a God who became flesh and cast out demons, raised the dead, healed the sick, blind, and lame, and walked on water.  Take a close look at His life - He healed the Jew and the Genitle.  He ministered to the Samaritan and the Centurion.  Every single person - no matter what group - was accepted by Christ as they came to Him and believed on Him.

When I treated God as though His life did not matter, He treated me as though I was all that mattered.  That is what the cross is.  He died for my sin and He rose again to give me life.

Beloved, it is time to turn off the news and to love our neighbors - all of them.  Those that feel marginalized, please, go that extra mile.  Walk two with them.  Hear them.  And then give them Jesus Christ - He is better than any party or group or movement.  He is the Savior of the world.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Seek to understand, not simply to be understood.

We are constantly asking people to understand us.  "Take a walk in my shoes and then you will know why I do what I do."  "If you would understand my issues, you would understand why I do what I do."

The desire to be understood runs deep.  Everyone wants to be listened to, heard, and understood.  And honestly sharing our pain, our troubles, our idiosyncrasies, not a bad thing.  I actually believe it is good.  However, I have come to a conclusion - we as people are always asking people to understand us and we rarely take the time to understand others.

Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as our self.  We want to be understood - so we ought to seek to understand.  You want us to understand how difficult it is for you due to your PTSD to keep appointments.  Your disorder is why you do not call when you miss an appointment, why you are late, and you cannot find the strength sometimes to even get out of the house.  Got it.  I will seek to understand.  I will empathize and forgive.  I will be a listening ear.  However, you too now must understand how frustrating and disappointing it is when people depend on you and you break appointments.  You now must understand why people no longer depend on you.  People no longer depend on you because you are undependable.  I know why you are undependable; but I have learned the lesson to simply not depend on you.

You want us to understand how frustrating it is to be sick.  You are right.  As healthy, we do need to try to understand how one must feel when one is sick.  We are called to have patience, tact, and understanding.  I will attempt to ignore the sighs, the bad moods, and the complaining.  However, now you need to try and understand how hard it must be to deal with someone in a bad mood who has become hyper-demanding because their life has become their illness.  Now understand how becoming a maid/cook/breadwinner while also being a nurse is exhausting.

As a pastor I have gone into the room of a sick patient where they lament that their loved one simply does not understand the pain/guilt/and strain they are going through.  Their loved one, they say, acts as if caring for them is a burden.  I pray with them and minister to them.   I then leave that room after praying with them to encounter that loved one crying because their sick loved one simply does not understand how hard it is to deal with their bad moods, demanding attitude, and unappealing nature.  I pray with them.  I minister to them.

Both parties have legitimate gripes.  Neither party seeks to understand the other but instead they keep wishing the other would understand them - neither party is happy.

We live in a culture where everyone has a megaphone and they are screaming, "understand me!  Understand me!  Understand me!"  Yet - since everyone has their own megaphone and everyone is screaming, "Understand me!" there is no one left to understand; everyone is too busy trying to be understood.

I know of that which I speak.  I have gone through painful experiences in my life - we all have.  I can assuredly tell you that it was of great comfort when people approached me and legitimately said, "I understand what you are going through...I am here for you..."  That was huge.  That was huge when Beth had a miscarriage.  That was huge when our child went through surgery.  That was huge when my father died.

I want to be that kind of a person - the kind of person that goes up to people and says, "hey...I understand...let me help you..."  But that is the kind of person whose focus is not on themselves - that is the kind of person that seeks to love - not to be loved.

Folks, we all have issues.  We all have problems.  We - you and me - need to stop demanding that everyone bow to our issues and instead begin bowing to theirs.  It is the key to joy.  Getting outside of ourselves and investing in other people is the key.

We have a Savior that was at total peace.  He was assured of love from the Father and was filled with that love and poured it out into other people.

My prayer is to be filled with His love so that I can love.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Why I am giving up facebook for Lent...

Well, today is Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent in the church calendar.  It is a time of self-reflection and it is a time of fasting in preparation for the victory of Easter.  And today marks the very first time I have ever specifically, "given up" anything for Lent.

You see, I am of the opinion that if God is telling you through the Word or conscience that a particular behavior, activity, or some other thing is outside the boundaries of God's desires for us, then we ought not wait for a season of the church year.  So, deal with it straight away whether it is the Christmas, Easter, Advent, Pentecost, or Epiphany seasons....

But it hit me like a ton of bricks today.  Facebook has lately done me no good.  You see, as a church we have a Facebook account.  I often blog on Facebook.  I have read good articles and kept up with friends on Facebook.  Therefore, please do not read this as if I think that Facebook is bad - I most certainly do not.  Facebook is a tool - and I would say a good one at that.

However, as of late, Facebook has been an impediment to my peace and joy.  Let me explain.

I have many friends with wide diverse opinions on a great many things.  This is good and healthy.  However, as of late their differing opinions on politics, religion, morality, etc...has gotten to me internally.  I have caught myself feeling and thinking, "ugh..."  More times than not, I have left trolling on Facebook feeling pained and irritated.

Worse than that, my wife will be sitting on the couch three feet from me and I will be trolling Facebook feeling irritated when the woman God has given as my best friend and helpmate sits just three feet away.

So, there you go - Facebook is not evil or bad - but I have been letting it get to me in a bad way.  Therefore, Lord, I repent.  And to help me get things back in check I will be fasting Facebook for the season of Lent.

I am telling you this simply to let you know so you'll know why I might not be commenting or messaging back on Facebook - but also to let you know that we pastors too need to focus on repentance just like everyone else.  When things get outta wack, we need adjustment.

Thank you Lord for your grace - and see you at Easter!

Your friend,

Chris Ogne

Monday, February 8, 2016

Cam Newton

1st Timothy 5:1-3

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father. Treat younger men like brothers,  older women like mothers, younger women like sisters, in all purity.  Honor widows who are truly widows.

I don't know why it hit me so, but I am going to be honest - my heart goes out to Cam Newton.  I were probably expecting something different - but honestly, it does.

Here is the thing.  I respect people that are constantly thrown into the media spotlight.  I truly do.  I cannot imagine having so much of my life on public display.  I imagine the work, the effort, the late nights, and all the preparation that goes into being on a Super Bowl team.  I also imagine the emotions after a loss.  So...I just think we ought to give the guy some grace.

And just so you know, I was rooting for the Denver Broncos.  I, like many others, wanted to see the great Peyton Manning go out with a win. [That is, if he is going out...]  Yet, I really do think people are being extremely hard on Cam.  And yes, I think I know why - he's a showboat.  He jumps up after every two yard gain and gets excited.  As the saying goes, "if you can act like that when you need to know how to lose..."  And, to be honest, I agree.  This entire experience, I am sure, will teach him just that - how to be a gracious loser.  But I think I am going to let God do that to Cam; I am not so sure he needs me to rub his nose in it.  I am not so sure he needs the media to rub his nose in it either.  Nothing is more embarrassing than having to deal with yourself the day after you acted foolishly.  I am sure that is what is going on.  He regrets his behavior.

Brothers and sisters, have you and I ever acted foolishly in high tension situations?  Have we ever allowed emotion to get the better of us?  Have we ever been ashamed of how we emotionally reacted to any given situation?  My goodness, I have later regretted how I let a dumb board game affect me!  A board game is not to be compared with the pressure and tension of the most anticipated sports event on the planet.  Can you imagine if in those high tension situations we had cameras in our face and we were being peppered with questions?  My goodness, I can barely contain myself sometimes when I see the political meme's on facebook and I want to comment on every one of them!

I am a Detroit Lions fan.  Two of the most amazing Lions players are Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson.  Both of these men are quiet, let their play be seen on the field, and exhibit nothing but humility and sportsmanship.  I always remember Barry Sanders scoring touchdowns and then simply flipping the ball to the ref.  He always acted like he had been there before.  That was awesome.  Calvin Johnson has that same kind of sportsmanship.

Yet, we also drafted and until this year had the man I dub discount double-step [for stepping on Aaron Rodgers] - Ndamukong Suh - on our football team.  He often acted foolishly both on and off the field.  Yet, because he was on the team I loved I often gave him grace.  Even when he said in his famous press conference, "the man upstairs knows!" in reference to his now infamous stomp on the Packer lineman.  I can remember thinking, "yes...Ndamukong...the man upstairs does know...and so do's on video tape..."  Yet - I still rooted for the guy - because he was on my team.

I guess my point is this - as Christians we're to treat the young men like brothers.  The guys we like - the guys on our team - we stand ready to give grace too.  I think we ought to do it to the guys we do not like too.  Someone pretty important said, [that would be Jesus], "if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Sinners love those who love them..."  As Christians I simply think we ought to give people in the public eye more grace - especially when they are acting out of emotion.

It is a good lesson to our kids to show them and say, " a good sport - this is what it looks like when we are not..."  But I also think it is a good lesson for our kids when we say, "hey...we all get worked up - and he was just sad and frustrated...let's give the guy a break..."

Just my two cents.

God bless,

Chris Ogne

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The big snow...and the lesson.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. [Galatians 6:9]

I live in a bedroom community for Washington D.C.  Its name is Bryans Road, MD and it is in Charles County.  We recently just got hit with a snowstorm - perhaps you heard about it :)  The official reports vary, however, I will say that my back and front yard had over 30 inches of snow.  It was quite impressive.

Here is a pic from my back porch.

Displaying photo 3.JPG

Now, it continually snowed beginning Friday afternoon and it did not end until Sunday morning.  It was the largest snow accumulation in a two day period that I ever remember being a part of [And I grew up in Michigan!]

Now, on Saturday morning it had accumulated about 15 inches.  I went out to my driveway and decided to shovel the driveway.  Needless to say, about ten minutes in, I wanted to quit.  The snow was thick, deep, and overwhelming.  But here is the thing - I knew that if I quit I would not be able to get out out of my house.  I would not be able to traverse the roads later.  I knew that if I quit I would eventually just have to go back and do it later.  And if I waited until later the snow would simply accumulate more. In addition, I also knew that it was still snowing.  So I also knew that after completing the driveway once, I would simply have to do it again tomorrow.  However, if I waited until tomorrow, the snow would be 30 inches instead of 15.

So I did not quit.  I just sighed, and kept digging.  And with each scoop I simply said to myself, "slow and steady wins the race..."  And 2 1/2 hours later I was done.  One scoop at a time.  One shovel full at a time.

I know it is a cliche to say, "the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step" but the lesson for me from this big snowstorm is simple - this life is hard.  Sometimes - sometimes - it just keeps snowing.  Yet, if you give up there really is no point.  It is going to snow whether you like it or not; so you just have to keep digging.

Now, interestingly enough, I was not alone in this.  Everyone I know is digging, or has dug, out of their house.  They see the immediacy of the need so they also do not quit.

Yet, too often I do not see this same, "stick-to-it" attitude amongst so many in other areas of life.  It is almost as if people see the need in the immediate so they do what is necessary; but when it comes to the bigger things in life they do not see the too often people quit.

I can remember going to college and thinking about all the classes still left to take.  I can remember thinking of giving up.  Yet, at just the age of 18 I would say to myself, "well...If I give up, what then?  I still have to live life..."

I can remember wanting to give up in Seminary.  I can remember that it was a rough slog - but I also can remember thinking, "If I give up, what then?"  I was taught at a young age that giving up is simply not an option.  I was taught to think about consequences.  I was taught that life is hard so get a helmet and move on.

I can remember in High School when football double sessions began at 530am during the summer and I can remember wanting to give up.  But thank God for my mother - she would drag me out of bed and not allow me to give up.  If I committed to doing a thing - then that thing needed to get done.

And you know what?  Sometimes when you complete a task you have to go right back and do it again.  This morning I went back outside and shoveled the driveway again.  Because it just kept snowing.

This weekend has been a lesson in life - sometimes it just keeps snowing and there is only one thing to do - dig.

Folks, just do not give up.  It is not an option.

And here is the thing - Football in High school ended and I am a better person because of the teammates, coaches, and experience.  I did graduate College and Seminary and I am so blessed to be a pastor.

Life is hard.  Get a helmet.  Keep digging.  And the good news is this - God is real.  When you want to give up, when you have had enough, when you call on Him - He helps.  And when you fail - He will forgive.  But get up.  Do not give up.