Friday, December 15, 2023

We too often put our trust in man...please don't.


This may or may not resonate with you; but it did with me.  That is why I have chosen to write a short blog about it.  

We are entering presidential election season - yipee!  And due to that, I am reminded how I have been tricked many a time by putting my hopes in men.  [I am using that term generically, not simply because all Presidents to this point have been men.]    

I am a political science major.  I got my B.S. in Poly sci and I have always been politically active.  I am now 49 years old; and I have seen people come and go - as have you - in office.  I do believe who we elect to be an office holder makes a difference in our lives.  I do believe that the character, integrity, and beliefs of those running for office matters greatly.  I have often said that just because a man is a man of principles does not automatically make him a good leader; it all depends upon what principles he holds! 

However, I have been tricked time and again in putting so much hope in political leaders.  And of course it is not simply political leaders.  We place our hopes in money, earthly power, our own abilities, etc... I am writing this blog for me more than anyone else.  

Beloved, the answer is not in man - it is in God.  Really and truly - it is in God.  

Psalm 146:3-4 reads this:

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.

I can remember one particular time I was sucked in badly.  I was very disheartened by the direction of the country and I thought to myself, "as long as this person is elected, everything is going to turn around!"  So I knocked on doors, I gave out pamphlets, and I really believed it was going to be different. 

They Won!  I was so happy.  I remember calling my grandmother during the inaugural and she said to me, "doesn't the air just smell cleaner now..."  Thinking back on it it is funny.  But I believed it!  

Then...things kinda kept going as they always have.  What a let down....

1st Corinthians 3:1-7 reads this:

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,  for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

It even happened religiously at the time of Paul~!  People were saying, "I follow this preacher...I follow that one!"  But again, it is not about the preacher.  It is about the God the preacher talks of:  He is the only one that can save.  V.7 reads it, "So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth..."

Beloved, truly, place your hope in God and His Son Jesus Christ.  He is where our hope comes from.  If we put our hope in men, we shall be doomed.  For men, all men, are sinners and all will perish, but Christ is all in all. 

Your friend,

Christopher Ogne

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Student Loan Forgiveness and Christianity

It has been a long time since I wrote a blog; however, I have seen the past 24 hours some pretty bad theology and a lot of talking past each other as it relates to the recent student loan forgiveness.  For example, I have seen posts on social media and memes that read this:

If you are Christian and wondering how to feel about student loan forgiveness, remember that your entire faith teaches you that someone paid off your entire debt. 

I have seen other memes and statements that compare student loan debt forgiveness to the generous manager of Matthew 20.  [In Matthew 20 God is compared to a manager who hires workers throughout different times of the day and pays them all an agreed upon amount, which happens to be the same amount.  At the end of the day when He settles accounts the ones' hired first are upset because they get the same amount as the ones hired last.  The Lord corrects those hired first by reminding them they received the agreed upon amount and they ought not be upset at His generosity.]

I have also seen memes where people compare student loan forgiveness to the petition in the Lord's Prayer, "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."  

In addition I have seen student loan debt forgiveness compared to the year of Jubilee in the Bible where all debts were forgiven.  

All four examples above, I must believe, are disingenuous. I truly believe those who say such things are not truly attempting to compare the current government's plan to release debtors of student loans to the Christian God's act on the cross and empty tomb. They are simply attempting to shame any Christian that disagrees with the current administration's plan to transfer student debt to the entire citizenry to their faith; and if they are upset about it then they are bad Christians.  

This is just not so.  I believe faithful Christians can disagree over this policy.  

One thing to be sure:  the heart of Christianity absolutely is debt forgiveness.  Debt forgiveness is good.  Without question.  Our entire debt of sin has been paid at Calvary.  Here is the glaring difference between this and the above examples:  God didn't demand anyone else to pay the debt of other people's sins.  He paid the debt entirely Himself.  

If some amazingly rich benefactor decided to take his/her own resources and wipe out 10-20 thousand dollars of debt for every single student loan individual making under 125000 dollars, I truly don't think anyone would be upset.  We would all rejoice over this man or woman's generosity.  That, my friends, is what God did.  He paid the debt Himself willingly.  He didn't make other people subsume the debt of others unwillingly and by force.  He paid for our poor choices Himself; He didn't make Sally pay for Bill's poor choices.

The question at hand is whether it is right, under these conditions, to make our neighbors' pay for the debts of their neighbors through taxation.  [And here, do not misread that I am fully against this.  I am not]  The disabled, the sufferer, the mentally ill, the economically unstable, etc...all get assistance through government programs that we, as a society through taxation, pay for.  We all pay for our neighbors' children to go to public schools, even if we never have children.  We all pay for roads even if we do not have cars, and so on and so forth.  But in all the above cases we, the people, pay for the benefit of others, assumingly because we believe that their benefit will benefit society in general.  Which is what we ought to be discussing.  Is making the collective citizenry pay for the student loan debts of others beneficial to the general society?  Is that good policy?  Does the executive branch even have this kind of authority?  These are the questions; and by golly they are good ones.  And I am ready to debate these questions; but for all that is holy do not tell me that what the government just did is what God Himself did...that's blasphemous.  God's benevolence is so overwhelmingly surpassed by any action of government.  The government, as it always does in any social welfare action, is making other people pay for their neighbors.  God paid all of our debt out of His own stockpile of benevolence, generosity, and goodness.  He asked nothing from us, because we would have messed it up.  God did it all Himself.  

And, perhaps, being the receptor of such amazing grace, we ought to be willing to give grace to everyone that we meet.  We have all made poor choices.  I know I have made poor financial choices.  Others, out of their goodness and love, truly helped me out.  We ought to help out our neighbors' too.  But there's a world of difference between someone willingly giving of their resources to benefit you and being forced governmentally through taxation to pay for the financial choices of others.   I know a great many people that have suffered under loans they ought not have taken.  Personally, I rejoice that maybe their burden has been lifted.  Just don't tell me forcing others to pay your debt is what God did.  He didn't.  He never forced you to pay for my sins.  He certainly did not force me to pay for yours.  He did that all Himself. 

God bless,


Sunday, December 20, 2020



This is going to be a long post...just a warning.

Never has there been a year like this in my life.  I am 46 years old and I could not have fathomed what this Christmas would be like, or feel like, one year ago.  My goodness, if you would have told me last year that this year would look like this I simply would not have believed it.  But alas, if you are reading this you have lived through this year to read this!  You know exactly what this year is like!

This post may be a little bit self-serving, for I am going to front load this blog with all of what I am feeling/thinking.  And if you decide to read this, I truly ask that you read the entire thing.  It is long.  If you are not up for it, please stop now.  I want you to either read the entire blog or none of it.  Please.  

Hopefully, as I write about how I am feeling it may also resonate with someone else and be a blessing.  That is what I am hoping.  So here is what I feel and think:

*  I am deeply concerned about the executive branch of government in many states restricting constitutional freedoms.  I honestly believe that earthly power has long been used to oppress free people and tyrants often believe that their tyranny is for the, "best" of the populace.  A quote from C.S. Lewis perfectly encapsulates how I feel - he is just so much better communicating an idea - so please read his quote below:

"If we are to be mothered, mother must know best. . . . In every age the men who want us under their thumb, if they have any sense, will put forward the particular pretension which the hopes and fears of that age render most potent. They ‘cash in.’ It has been magic, it has been Christianity. Now it will certainly be science. . . . Let us not be deceived by phrases about ‘Man taking charge of his own destiny.’ All that can really happen is that some men will take charge of the destiny of others. . . . The more completely we are planned the more powerful they will be.

. . . .

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.

* Those that are not running a business may not know, but the Governor's press conferences will often bring business owners, pastors, and any leader of an organization close to tears.  As soon as you get your footing, the rules change.  It is actually quite terrifying.  Especially when you believe, as I do, that these edicts are unconstitutional.  It is a unique kind of terror that up to this point I was unaware one could feel.  One second you believe you are complying and the next second the rug is being pulled out from under you.  I have never sat on the edge of my seat more listening to a Governor's press conference or a county commissioner meeting.  And quite literally things can be different from one county to the next.  It is a unique kind of suffering of which I have never been through.  How do you shepherd a people when the grass and the conditions change not year by year but week by week or day by day?  Do we disregard?  Do we submit?  Do we plow forward?  What do we do?

* On the complete flip side  I am deeply concerned about COVID 19.  I have researched all the statistics.  I absolutely know the survival and mortality rates.  I do not need to be reminded.  Yet, people that I care about get sick.  People that I care about have to close their churches for a couple of weeks due to small outbreaks.  People that I love are quarantined from their loved ones at Christmas.  There are a great many people that I love more than perhaps they know that I have not seen due to the wisdom that God has given them to isolate as much as they can.  I respect their decisions and I respect their choices.  I minister to them virtually as best as I can and I celebrate the Eucharist in socially distant ways one at a time if they allow it.  I absolutely never want to humiliate, judge, or make someone feel small for desiring to be safe, keep their family safe, and do what they believe is best as the circumstances in their life allow.  I am not, and I pray I never would be, someone that is cruel or judgmental in this regard.  Just because I think people ought to be free in their movement does not mean I do not respect free people to make free choices and make choices to be safe in their persons. 

*  I absolutely have concern about COVID coming to the church and her members.  Of course I do not want anyone seriously ill; however sadly an almost as serious a concern of mine [and I recognize this as a sin of selfishness] comes from peers who have made different choices saying, "I told ya so!" There is  such an ugly spirit of, "I told ya so" today.  It is its own dagger.  Every pastor makes different choices based on the circumstances of their parishes.  I honestly wish we could respect each other as brothers in the cloth.  I have seen the posts of pastors that have decided to close the doors to the churches they serve and write, "come on people - this is LOVE!"  The implication of course is that if you do not follow their lead you are leading the people of the church you minister to to the slaughter.  The opposite is true also.  I  have seen posts shaming pastors that believe that they should be virtual only as fearful and weak.  The implication of course is that they cower in fear and have no faith in God. 

I never thought I would live in a time when I would be questioned about whether I would allow people to hug in church.  Even writing the sentence is horrifying to me..."allowing people to hug?"  who in the world am I to disallow two consenting people to hug each other and show, what used to be, mutual love for one another?  

People are dead.  There are people that have died that would not have died if it were not for COVID.  I have read posts about people attempting to belittle COVID deaths.  That only works until someone close to you gets severely ill with this disease.   

People are suffering financially.  I have read story after story of people whose jobs have been jettisoned and deemed non-essential and they weep as they try and provide for their families.  My income is secure as of right now.  Many people reading this have secure incomes also.  I do not think we rightly know the terror of being forced out of a job, losing an income, and due to government actions not being able to earn one.  I try and put myself in the place of the single mother who has no gifts under the tree and lives under the threat of homelessness or immediate foreclosure upon the lifting of the government regulation forbidding it for a time due to this and cannot find pride in work because work has been disallowed her. 

I minister to people who have lost jobs and are on the verge of financial collapse.  I have done funerals for people that also would not have died if it were not for the lockdown due to the medical attention that was limited in the beginning shutdown in March.  My sister-in-law's own mother died due to lack of medical care and to hear the story of the death of her mother is to hear a story of tragedy in itself. 

There are no easy answers.  There are no easy answers. Please hear me - there are no easy answers. 

But perhaps there is a difficult answer.  This is what the Lord has taught me this year more than ever before:  I am not in control.  Not even a little bit.  

When human beings are scared they often try and exercise control.  I personally believe this is what government is trying to do.  The people in charge are faced with an uncontrollable situation.  The populace looks to them to control that which is uncontrollable.  They are trying.  And the more they try the more control slips through their fingers. 

In my own life due to God's providence my family and the church that I serve have as yet had no COVID deaths or related illnesses.  Yet my anxiety sadly is at a zenith thinking constantly about all the implications.  "What if that" or, "what if this" or, "what would happen if..."  and it is all just me trying to gain control over a situation of which I have no control.  I recognize this desire to control as a fault and I try - brothers and sisters in Christ boy do I try - to simply trust.  But my mind veers back to all the what if's.  

So I can tell you what conclusion I have come to.  I need to let God be God and I am going to do what I believe God would have me do.  I preach boldly.  I speak the Scriptures boldly.  Anyone who wants to be ministered to virtually I minister to virtually.  Anyone who wants to be ministered to in-person I minister to in-person.  I pray without ceasing.  I may be wrong in some of my choices and when that is made clear to me I will seek God's forgiveness and restoration.  

But here is the end of the matter:  there are relevant Scriptures to consider:

Love your neighbor.  What does love look like in this situation?  That may differ from person to person.  

"All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." [Psalm 139] My life is in God's hand and it does me tremendous good to know that God ordained my birth and my death.  Life and death are in His hands. 

But most of all I rest in this - Jesus' words in John 11:25-26, " Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 

The answer my Lord is, "yes."  "I believe this."   I will scream it, "Yes, I believe this!"  His words were spoken to a woman who mourned the death of her brother. He is Lord over death and life. 

It does me great good to know that my Lord, our Lord, your Lord has died for you.  He has risen again for you.  He is coming back for you.  This place is not my home for I wait for a permanent country from God. 

In the meantime, I will attempt to live boldly for Christ and do boldly what I believe He would have me do.  "Lord, may my actions not be out of presumptive arrogance.  Lord, may my actions not be out of fearfulness or timidity.  Lord, may my actions be out of undying love for you and my neighbor, seeking the lost, and caring for the people who need to be cared for.  Let me rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep."

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I believe in freedom because I believe in Jesus.  That is my conclusion.  That is why I fight for it.  That is why I argue for it.  

One last quote from C.S. Lewis that I think is helpful.  He was asked how to live under the threat of an atomic age when any second one might be blown up.  This is what he wrote [And please understand that I DO know the difference between a contagious disease and an atomic attack...]

In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. ‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat at night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented… It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds...

[This is me, Chris, simply saying my sin is that this situation has indeed attempted, and sadly often succeeded, in dominating my mind]

What the atomic bomb has really done is to remind us forcibly of the sort of world we are living in and which, during the prosperous period before, we were beginning to forget. And this reminder is, so far as it goes, a good thing. We have been waked from a pretty dream, and now we can begin to talk about realities...

It is our business to live by our own law not by fears: to follow, in private or in public life, the law of love and temperance even when they seem to be suicidal, and not the law of competition and grab, even when they seem to be necessary to our own survival. For it is part of our spiritual law never to put survival first: not even the survival of our species. We must resolutely train ourselves to feel that the survival of Man on this Earth, much more of our own nation or culture or class, is not worth having unless it can be had by honorable and merciful means.

Nothing is more likely to destroy a species or a nation than a determination to survive at all costs. Those who care for something else more than civilization are the only people by whom civilization is at all likely to be preserved. Those who want Heaven most have served Earth best. Those who love man less than God do most for man....

God bless you.  Merry Christmas.  I pray that we all have the hope of Jesus.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Coronavirus and our faith

1st Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."

Greetings friends.  It has been a long time since I have written a blog; yet I believed it was necessary to jot down some things to think about as we process all that is happening around the world and in our own communities as we hear about, plan for, and think about this new virus.

As I am sure you all know, there is a novel corona-virus that has literally affected the world.  There have been corona-virus' before, but this one is completely new.  This blog is not about how it came about, from whence it came, or anything of that sort.  This blog is about how we as Christians ought to think, believe, and act in the midst of this.  The above Scripture is key to understanding our response.

We are not to fear but we are to cast our anxiety on the One who can act - God Himself.  Let us trust the goodness of God who died and rose again for us.  Do not fear - trust.

In order to get us to think, I am going to write down a few points:

To set the stage:

*  Italy has taken unprecedented steps in locking down the entire country.  Travel has been severely restricted.  The Prime Minister has asked people to remain home unless travel is absolutely necessary.  These kinds of steps have not been implemented since the second world war.

*  The virus seems to spread easily between people and from all reports the death rate is higher than the regular flu.

*  The virus seems to be spreading throughout the United States in spite of our best efforts in trying to contain it.

*  Schools are beginning to discuss virtual schooling; sporting events are beginning to discuss fan-less gatherings.  Many large scale events have been cancelled.  The elderly have been warned by the State Department to avoid long travel and cruises.

*  We are being assured that all will be well.  We are being assured that the above events, and others, are only precautionary measures.  Yet...there is still this lingering feeling in the pit of many stomachs that if this virus was not as dangerous as we fear, these steps simply would not be taken...

Alas, I am no medical professional.  I am also not, "in the know" when it comes to virology, contagion, or the spread of disease.  I have no idea how serious this threat actually is.  I have no idea if we are being told the truth or we are being lied to.  Could it be serious?  Yes.  Could we be being manipulated?  Yes.  Could it be a little of both?  Yes.  I have no idea at all.

So why in the world am I writing this blog?  Not to guess at what I do not know, but to remind us all of what I do know; for the Word of God states it - our God is good, He is in control, and He loves you.  Here are some things I do know:

*  God is real.  He has sovereign control over everything. Deuteronomy 32:39 makes it clear that life and death are in His hands. "'See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand."

*  Every day that has been ordained for us were written down before one of them came to be.  Psalm 139:16, "Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them."

*  Our death was never in question.  We will all die, for we all sin.  Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death."

*  Having said the above, God has not left us as orphans without any hope.  When we believe in Christ, He cares for us.  Please beloved remember that death is not the end of our story - not even close.  Jesus Himself tells us such wonderful promises in John 11:25-26 and John 14:1-6, "Jesus said..., "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" And again in John, "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

*  I want to finish Romans 6:23... "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Beloved, we have eternity right now.  No virus can stop that.  No devil in hell can stop that.

*  Remember Romans 8:38-39, "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

All this is not to say that we are to hasten death, welcome it, or look forward to it.  This is certainly not written to make people say, "well then forget it...come on death!"  That is not the right attitude; Christians are not called to hasten death.   Why do you think Christians in history were the ones to build all the best hospitals!  We are called to care for the sick - not hasten illness.  Death is an evil, disgusting thing that Christ came to deliver us from by His resurrection.  I remind us of the above simply to tell us that death is not an if question, it is a when and how question.  If this virus outbreak does nothing else for us let it remind us of the fragility of this earthly life.  No government, no matter its military strength, no amount of human preparedness, no amount of anything will prevent our demise.  We may die from a global outbreak of a virus or we may die many years from now, well advanced in years, in peaceful sleep in our beds.  But beloved make no mistake - we will die.  

None of this is to say that we ought not prepare.  We should.  We are called to love our neighbors and so we ought to love them fully - care for the sick and if we ourselves are sick we ought to remain home and get well.  We are called to submit to authority so if we are called to quarantine, quarantine.  There are two ways we can positively effect the world - through our good deeds and our prayers.  And please remember that the 2nd of these two options is by far the more powerful.  God is in our homes and our rooms - beloved pray that God would stem this.  Plead the goodness of God in the land of the living.

However, the last thing we ought to do is fear.  Fear is a terrible motivator.  Fear makes us think of ourselves.  Fear makes us envy and hate our neighbor when we are called to love.  Fear makes us do terribly foolish things.  Fear is not of God; it is of the enemy and it is easily manipulated to make us do things we would never think of doing with a cooler head.

Beloved, let us remember something: before this virus we were doomed to die.  Now that this virus is here we are doomed to die.  Before this virus we were given eternal life in Christ who defeated death.  Now that this virus is here we are given eternal life in Christ who defeated death.

Let us say with the Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 15:55, "55 "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"

Beloved, please remember God loves you and He proved it at the cross and the empty tomb.


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Do not make this world your god and politics your religion.


I have a bachelors in political science.  I am politically informed.  I follow it.  I care about it.  I care about it a lot.  Yet, I recognize the temptation of this world to make it our god and politics our religion; and I urge all of us to resist.  Please resist. 

Let me tell you what I mean.  Luther, in the large catechism, defines what the true God and an idol are.  This is what he writes concerning the 1st commandment, which is, "you shall have no other gods before Me." [Do not think linearly here - 'before me' means, 'in my presence' - think like, "coming before a king."]

Luther writes, "You shall have [and worship] Me alone as thy God.  What is the force of this and how is it to be understood?  What does it mean to have a god?  Or, what is God?  Answer:  A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the whole heart; as I have often said that the confidence and faith  of the heart alone make both God and an idol.  If your faith and trust be right, then is your god also true; and, on the other hand, if your trust be false and wrong, then you have not the true God; for these two belong together, faith and God.  That now, I say, upon which you set your heart and put your trust is properly your god.

Many people have stopped putting their trust in God; and they've started putting their trust in humanity.  As a result, politics has become their religion; for that is the way to make this world, "better" for humanity.  The old saying, "nature abhors a vacuum" is true.  The vacuum left by God has been filled...and it has been filled with caring way too much about political questions.

People are far less religious today than they were years ago.  Even with people who believe in God, there is a significant drop in religion. Religion is loosely defined as simply a set of beliefs where a person is taught the nature of the universe, a person understands their purpose in that universe, and they are taught of He who created the universe and how to be in a right relationship with Him.  There is much more to it than that, and I fully recognize the differences in religions, yet that loose definition will serve the purpose of the blog.

This is what, "having religion" has done for me:  I hope in God.  I do not hold out hope for this world.  This world is sinful.  This world is very sinful.  This world will always have evil in it.  This world will always have bad in it.  Jesus called Satan, "the prince of this world."  As such, I do not hope in this place.  I am assured that this present heavens and earth will burn and God will created a new heavens and earth.  This is the hope of Christianity. 

The religion of politics has said this world is all there is,[the nature of the universe]  that our place is only to make this place, 'better' [we exist to serve the world] and the standard for, 'better' is maleable and unstable, and we must change with it [hence finding our place in this world] therefore there is always distress in the system. 

This truth of God and His Son Jesus guards me about placing my hope in this place; and that is what I fear far too many people have done.  You see, I believe very strongly in doing the best I can to influence the culture, the government, and the people around me to do that which God would have us do.  I believe strongly in influencing this world for good; for the sake of the people in it.  So I am not here writing about any particular political activity of influence that you may partake in.  Write the letters, call the congressman or woman, call the president, vote, etc....but do that out of love for people, not love for our political ideology.  Do not treat your politics as if you were fighting for your God.  If you are Christian, you are not...Beloved, do not hope in this place - do not find your hope in this world - for the love of all that is holy, do not hope in it.  No matter what happens, this place will still be sinful.

Take Christ for example.  He lived at a time of political turmoil in Israel.  Politics was everywhere!  It was a political question in order to trap Him when He was asked, "should we pay taxes to Caesar or not..." [Matthew 22:17] One of the accusations against Jesus by the religious leaders was that Jesus claimed to be a king, in opposition to the Caesar.  [Luke 23:2]

The Roman government had political, military, and economic control over Israel.  Everyone in Israel was hoping in political deliverance from Rome.  The promise of the Messiah was thought to be fulfilled through a mighty warrior that would re-establish the borders of the Promised Land.

Yet...when Jesus walked the earth prior to His resurrection, He said nothing about the political situation of Roman occupation.  He simply never addressed it directly.  He did not address the political questions between the Gentiles, the Jews, and the Samaritans.  He simply did not spend time on it.  He spent time healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, and preaching the Gospel.  He spent a great amount of time telling us how to behave.  He called us to repentance and He called us to faith.  Why ignore the political structure and focus directly on people?

I will tell you why.  Rome today is an insignificant city in Italy.  Rome, as a nation, is dead.  Yet, the people that lived at the time Jesus met them - they are either in heaven or hell.  He spent time on the things that were eternal, not the things that are transient.

Many people have pushed their hope in God away and replaced it with a trifling silly idol; this world.  And they mistake politics as the tool to making this world that which it will never be: completely just, fair, good, and holy.  Please remember who the, "prince of this world" is. 

Hope in God.  He has a Kingdom prepared that will not spoil or fade; and that Kingdom is waiting for all who turn from sin and embrace Christ.

I have the privilege of ministering to people who think very differently from me on political questions.  Yet, we seem to love each other well.  The reason for this is because, while I never shy away from questions the Bible addresses - in particular questions of life, sexuality, the unique creation of all human beings being made in God's image, justice, stewardship of the creation, etc...I do not suppose to attempt to manipulate people to think I know all the answers as to how to achieve it.  I do not hope in me - I hope in God. 

I have been far from perfect.  I too have gotten sucked into discussions on-line of which I later regret.  And I have to tell you, I have not been convinced by one meme by one friend of which I disagree on political matters.  No one's anger has ever moved me.  Yet, real discussions with real people with whom I love has changed my mind.  But we can have those discussions because I know I am not asking them to drop their god...and they are not asking me to drop mine.  Our God is the same and our goal is the same.  How we make this world a better place...that is what we are discussing.  And when that is the discussion, we are discussing 3rd things, not 1st things, and that makes all the difference in the world. 

Your friend,


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Christians...we truly need to know our Christianity better...transgenderism, overeating, and a whole lot more...

Dear Christians:

As a Christian I am attempting to write to you as brothers and sisters.  It is not about arrogance, but out of love that I write.  We need to know our Christianity better than we do.  Our failure to truly understand our Christianity is hurting countless people in the trajectory of our lives.  If you are able, please read this blog.  It is long, but I really believe it is important. 

This blog contains two main points that at the surface all Christians accept and know; and yet I am so saddened that we fail to apply these principles to our daily lives and apply it to the lives we deal with every single day.  These two principles should help us understand ourselves and the world we live in and the people we deal with.  Here are the principles:

*  I am a sinner from conception to death. 

*  Jesus Christ died and rose again to save sinners.

I know, I know.  You know this.  I know this.  We say it all the time with phrases like, "we're all sinners." or, "we all need some Jesus!"  Yet, I am convinced we fail to take these two principles and apply them in a meaningful depth in our lives. 

Let me write about me first.  I have struggled with my appetite my entire life.  I am not kidding.  It is a life-long struggle.  I have yoyo'd in diets since I can remember.  My goodness, my mom tells me the story as an infant I was simply insatiable and that I would not shut up unless I got that, "2nd bottle."  As long as I can remember, I have always desired more food than my body needs. 

When I write this, people without this problem really do not understand.  It would be impossible.  I know many people who eat because they are hungry.  When they are no longer hungry, they stop eating.  They are, what I would consider, mentally and psychologically healthy as it comes to the topic of food and food consumption.  Their, "food desire" is within a healthy range.

Yet, my desires are not right.  I know this.  I know that I ought to restrain my desire for food.  This is called, "self-control."  I have an unhealthy relationship with food.  People have asked me, "well, do you have a strong desire eat to find comfort?  Do you eat food when you are sad?  Happy?  Bored?  Depressed?  Stressed?  Relaxed?"  My answer to these questions are, "yes."  I am done with breakfast and I think about what I am going to have for lunch.  I am done for lunch and I think about dinner.  I am done with dinner and I think about making it until breakfast.  My thought patterns concerning food are unhealthy and wrong.  Tada - I am a sinner.  You see, sin is not simply, "the wrong stuff I do" but it is a core psychological, physical, and spiritual disease whereby many of my desires are not right, good, or holy.  The Apostle Paul admitted the same when he says in Romans 7:15-17, "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me." 

Sin is real.  I was infected with this spiritual disease at conception.  Like I inherited my hairline and my cool looking stubby toes from my parents, I also inherited my spiritual disease called sin.  Sin is the desire to do that which is wrong, bad, and harmful. 

To get a better handle on this, I want to make myself perfectly clear.  If I allowed my desire for food to have its full course, I would easily be housebound within a year or two.  Easily.  If food is presented to me, even after I have eaten, I still want the food.  It takes effort  to say, "no."  I do not believe this is the same for healthy eaters.  [And by healthy here I do not mean the types of food chosen, I mean healthy as in their relationship with food]. 

So what am I to do?  I will tell you what I do.  I fight.  Daily.  I know that nothing good lives in my sinful nature; therefore I know that my gluttonous desires are not good.  I repent daily about them - and then I apply the 2nd principle, "Jesus Christ died for sinners."  Jesus died for my unhealthy eating desires - all of them.  He died for all my unhealthy desires - every last one of them.  And I receive that forgiveness.  I rejoice in that forgiveness.  I am holy in God's sight through that forgiveness. And then I try again to eat correctly.  Every. Single. Day. 

Now, how does this relate to other things?  Well, I recently read a post on facebook from a young lady that desired to, "come out" as transgendered.  In the post she lamented about the judgmental Christians that would reject her [she is heavily involved in church related activities].  [I also want to say, to stop the gossip train, I am not here writing about anyone in the congregation I serve.] 

Now, in the post she wrote that she was no longer going to, "reject the way God made me.  He made me this way.  I am a boy."  Yet, a few sentences later she admitted she was taking hormone therapy and was looking forward to, "cutting off the milk machines" that she has.  Do we see the sad disconnect here?  If God, "made you" with the desires and attendant feelings of a boy...did God not also make you with the hormones you have and the milk machines?  Are you attempting to say that God made the internal you but not the biological you?  [Do not read judgment or sarcasm here - it is not present.  I am asking a legitimate question]  She is not applying the first principle to herself; and therefore cannot avail herself of the 2nd principle. 

As a reminder, the first principle is simple - we are sinners from conception to death.  Your chromosomes are the chromosomes of a female.  You are biologically a female.  You. are. a. Female.  Yet, and this is important, I totally believe you that you are super-uncomfortable with that reality.  I totally believe you that you feel like, "a boy."  I do not deny this at all.  I affirm this is how you feel and I affirm that you have a legitimate desire to be seen as a boy.  I simply know beyond a doubt that these desires are sinful. Just as sinful as a ton of my desires.

I have a ton of lustful, angry, hateful, prideful, boastful, desires that are not good.  They come naturally.  I don't want them but they're there.  All the time.  And I repent every single day for having them.  Every day. 

One of the biggest problems we as Christians are having is this - apply the principle that we are sinners to our everyday lives.  We. All.  Suck.  That is why we need a Savior.  This is what Paul said when he writes in Romans 7:24-25, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin."

We need Jesus to make a, "new us" and redeem us through His death and resurrection.  Praise God He has given me Jesus to make me new. 

Yet, while still in this realm I struggle with the old me; and that old me needs to be constantly drowned through repentance and forgiveness. 

I cannot help but wonder the damage we are doing to people.  We are telling them, "your sin isn't sin - it's perfectly good" when it is not.  Or we are telling them, "'re so gross and your desires are sooooo much worse than mine" when they aren't.  You stink too. 

To put this in perspective, let me apply this to me again.  What friend, being a good friend, would ever say to me, "dude...your desire and relationship with food is fine.  Just eat whatever the heck you want and you'll be good.  God made you with those desires - eat away!  We'll just keep re-tailoring those pants!"  No good friend would do this.  A good friend asks if they can help - they don't nag me - but they don't affirm bad habits either. 

We are doing no one any favors when we affirm sin.  Ever.  We are also doing no one any favors by totem poling their sin, as if our crap did not stink. 

The two principles at work here are important

*  I am a sinner from conception to death

*  Jesus Christ died and rose again to save sinners

So, final question.  If I am a sinner, how can I know what desires are good and what desires are broken?  Ah, I am glad you asked.  God wrote it down for us.  It is all found in His Holy Word.  The Word of God is the means by which the Holy Spirit reveals to us truth.  Those that say, "yeah...but it can be interpreted so many ways!" have never really read it.  Most of the people using that argument are simply regurgitating what they heard someone else say.  Sin is clear.  Righteousness is clear.  We are simply uncomfortable with the first principle.

Beloved, let us apply these two principles to our life.  Let us admit we are sinners and then rejoice in being forgiven by the blood of Jesus.  It will help us - and others - a lot.

Your Friend,


Friday, May 18, 2018

Another School shooting, a hotel shooting, and spying scandals.

Greetings friends.  As I write this blog today there are three headlines that caught my eye.

The first is that today there is another school shooting in Santa Fe Texas.  As of this writing the public has been told that there are eight people who have been killed and the shooter is in custody.

Also at this writing a Florida man opened fire in a Trump hotel and was shot in the legs by police officers.

Also at this writing there are two counter-narratives in the political news.  The one states that one or more FBI agents were planted in the Trump campaign in 2016 as a counter-intelligence matter because some in the campaign were acting mischievously with a foreign government and they needed to gather information on this; the other narrative is that the former administration was spying on a political rival thereby criminally using government agencies to spy on political enemies.

What do all these events have in common?  Just hear me out.

I was reading the book of Philippians the other day and something I read jumped off the page.  I have read that small book countless times; yet these words hit me directly in my head and heart - and they have remained there for over a week.  The reading comes from Philippians 3:18-19

"For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things."

How does this Scripture relate to the three events described above?  Because in all three instances people are focused on the things of this world.  Why kill people in a school?  Why shoot guns in a hotel?  Why either spy on opponents or illegally conspire with foreign agents?  The answer is actually quite simple - your mind is on earthly things.  You may kill because you have lost hope.  Why have you lost hope?  Because your hopes lie here.  You spy illegally because your hope lies here.  You collude because your hopes lie here.   Bottom line is this - sin, grievous sin, occurs because people's hopes and dreams lie in a dying world.  And that is sad; very sad.

Only a person who truly has not grasped eternity would be willing to sell their soul to gain the world.  Only a person who truly has not grasped eternity would be willing to kill their neighbor without thought to the next world.

The longer I live in this world the more I see how crooked and perverse this place truly is.  Yet, this fact does not depress me.  It saddens me.  It moves me to action.  But it does not depress me.  It does not depress me because I know one immutable truth - this place is not my home.  This place does not hold my hope.  This place does not hold my future.  This place is a dead world that will eventually be completely destroyed.  The Apostle Paul says it in Philippians 3:20-21

"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself."

My home, and the home of every believer in Jesus, is heavenly glory.  We look forward to a new heaven and a new earth - that is our home of righteousness.  So beloved, you and I do not need to get caught up in the hate, fear, cruelty, or dissension of this world.  This world is dying.  We knew that yesterday.  We know it today.  It will be further into its death spiral tomorrow.  Hear me if you have never heard me before - if you believe in Jesus Christ this world is not your home.  We are only passing through.

And those who do not believe?  What, in tears, does the Apostle say?

Their end is destruction.  Their god is their belly.  They glory in their shame.

Let us take the third sentence first.  They honor what is shameful.  Is Jesus not a punchline for this atheistic world?  Is blasphemy not regular?  Is that which is dishonorable uplifted by this culture and that which is good mocked and scorned?  The answer is yes.

What does the Apostle mean when he says, "their god is their belly?"  Are they worshiping their stomachs?  No.  Whether people in this world like to admit it or not, everyone has a god.  More often than not in America our god is the self.  We worship the self.  And the Apostle admits that at his time this was often the case as well.  He says, "their god is their belly."  What he means is that their varied appetites are what they live their lives to please.  Jesus taught the Kingdom of God; this world teaches the Kingdom of desire.  Back in the 60's the world taught, "if it feels good, do it."  Today the world teaches, "if it feels good, it is right.  And if anyone tells you that the way you feel is not right, they are horrible bigots and judgmental jerks."  Our god has become our feelings; and my goodness if our feelings do not constantly change.  When we make our desires our god my goodness it is such a difficult idol to please.  Our desires are constantly shifting, our feelings constantly changing, therefore our actions to please those desires shifting as well.

And finally the Apostle says, "their end is destruction."  Whether we like it or not the Bible is very clear on those who do not believe in the Lord.  The words of Jesus in John 5:28-29, "Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment."  It is Jesus Himself that says hell is, "eternal punishment." [Matthew 25:46]

So what should be our attitude as Christians as we face a world filled with pain, death, lies, and corruption?  Well it ought not be that we cloister ourselves away.  It ought not be fear.  It ought not be to throw our lot in with the world.  What should we do?

Beloved, tell of the love of Jesus to this dying world.  He is the one true hope.  Imagine if that person who shot eight dead knew there was a person who defeated death who truly loves Him?  Imagine if that person in Florida knew that their hopes were not dashed by one man?  Imagine if, whichever narrative is true, those involved in corruption at the highest level knew that there are no such things as secrets - that they themselves will know and the Lord will know whatever they do?  And then imagine if they simply said to themselves, "I will focus on the two things eternal - God and others."  This can only happen if they know the Lord Jesus Christ, and I quote the Apostle Paul again in Romans 10:14, "How can they know if no one preaches to them?"

So beloved, as you hear all the bad news coming through the news today, remember this - Jesus has already died; and Jesus has already risen again. He rose again and secured everlasting life to all who trust in Him.  Therefore be free of the fear of this world and let us spend our time spreading the hope of Christ to a dying world.  We ought never be satisfied, as much as we can help it, that there are people we know whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetites, and their glory is in shame.  Instead let us share the true God - so their end will be heaven, their God will be the true God, and their glory will be in their salvation in Christ.


Your friend,