A wiser saint said to me long ago, "What you believe has got to mean more to you than what people think of you."
Today, I put it this way: "The truth as patterned by Jesus, prescribed in Holy Scripture, and upheld by our constitution has got to mean more to you than your need for vocational and relational security and advancement and the temptation to exalt temporal lusts and satisfactions over your eternal destiny."
I think of Matthew 16:24-28.
Here's how I put it in my non-best-selling (still available at a credibly cheap price) Fifteen Secrets for Life and Ministry: "Remembering you're going to live a lot longer with Jesus than anybody else makes establishing life's priorities a no-brainer."
Of course, few bought the book, fewer read it, and I'm just tinkling in the wind these days.
But when I'm feeling really sad about what's happened to the formerly faithful mainline denominations, I think of Jesus.
I read Hebrews 12 within the context of Matthew 23:37-39.
I don't know if Jesus is more sad or angry at what we've enabled and accommodated in the church which is increasingly anathema to what we know about Him in the Bible.
Knowing I've got less time than I've spent in life and ministry, I've decided to follow Jesus to the end; even if it means never being moderator of anything in my ecclesiastical judicatories or winning the favor of folks in the community who don't want the truth but rather a rationalization for their hedonisms.
Yeah, I've got a big mouth; but I will change the mind that provokes it if corrected by Jesus according to the Bible.
I was thinking about all of that during my primary ecclesiastical meeting yesterday; and, I confess, a Neil Young song kept swirling around my spirit during worship: "My life is changing in so many ways. I don't know who to trust anymore. There's a shadow running through my days like a beggar running from door to door..."
I read Psalm 1, looked around, and felt worse.
I read Psalm 62, turned to Chuck, and said, "I'm sufficiently humbled by all of this to receive the sacrament from His hand."
Lord, have mercy on me when I enable and accommodate who and what insult Your holiness.
In a related story, our family of faith is in a building program.
While the economy is precarious and our resources were raped and relations were fractured during a tumultuous period between installed pastors which we're still feeling and only recently being delivered from its last vestiges, morale is good, the remnant is psyched, and we're gonna do it!
Unfortunately, part of my pastoral responsibility is honesty about the good, bad, and ugly attached to church building programs; noting there will be a flow in during and after building but also a trickle out by people who really aren't into it for a variety of reasons left to His judgment.
Some folks leave during a building program because they're really too cheap to participate; and instead of being honest about it, they come up with rationalizations for leaving which usually end up in a defaming, denouncing, and damning of the incumbent installed pastor.
We've tried to assure folks who are experiencing real financial stresses during these days that we expect them to invest all of the resources necessary to support their primary call to their families and that their prayer, emotional, and spiritual support are enough as we trust Him to compel those who have been extraordinarily blessed with $ to fork over.
That's just the way it is with every new adventure.
Some get on the bus and some don't (a C.S. Lewis metaphor from The Great Divorce which mainliners have formatted from their practical hard drives).
Speaking of new adventures, I know this is hard for crackers to take but nearly 70% of America and a very big % of the world expects the next four years in our nation and globe to be better than the last four.
Hold your breath, crackers.
People really like PBHO.
Now bite down real hard and clench your fists, crackers.
Averaging the nationwide results, PBHO collected 44% of the non-colored-that-means-white vote; which, get out the Valium, is more than John Kerry, Al Gore, or even Bill Clinton garnered.
Simply, white folks seem to like PBHO almost as much as black folks; noting that well over 90% of our African-Americans did not vote for JM/SP.
O.K., some get on the bus and some...
Here are my two favorite quotes about PBHO's, uh, ascension.
From 70 year-old community activist Donald E. Robinson near PBHO's new residence after leaving the voting booth and anticipating victory: "Why do I have to be listed as African-American? Why can't I just be American?"
From Robert Robinson (coincidentally) who is the managing editor of sports for USA Today: "As I watched the election results.., I found myself fighting back tears as I thought of just how far we have come as a country...I didn't think about the war, job layoffs, the sinking economy, the high cost of gas or the rising cost of food...I thought about what a great time it is to be alive and living in America."
Jackie Robinson comes to mind (not coincidentally).
That's why I'm praying every Sunday in corporate worship and every day in my personal devotions, "Lord, protect and encourage PBHO; compelling him by Your Holy Spirit into courageous and increasing conformity to Your will as patterned by Jesus and prescribed in the Bible."
God knows he's got a tough job ahead.
Aside from the crackers and demons who have possessed his haters to suggest and scheme the unthinkable - which would send our nation/globe into unparalleled crisis - the expectations have been set so high for him that he better be the chosen one with some miracles up his sleeves.
I'm with Chuck Colson: "PBHO will surely need our prayers because he and his administration face huge, serious challenges to the health of our nation and to the peace in the world-challenges that, in my opinion, neither he nor any government on earth will have the power to overcome without divine aid."
Everybody: "Long may our land be bright with..."
I've got to shatter two myths about Election 2008.
First, our African-American - Americans! - sisters and brothers tend to be more faithful to Biblical morality than whities; and if you check out the polling data from California's Proposition 8, you'll get some proof.
Parenthetically, it was the predominantly African-American organizations in our junior tackle football league which lobbied to move most of our games from Sunday to Saturday because "they" prefer to be in worship on Sunday mornings!
Second, everybody, including me, has questioned if PBHO is gonna be influenced by his nutty buddies who enabled and encouraged him to the White House. I don't think so. My guess comes from my experience in the African-American community as a pastor, police chaplain, and president of a junior tackle football league. Blacks have had to make difficult alliances throughout history just to survive the bigotries of their sick white counterparts. But think about it! BHO has become President BHO! It's the biggest and most powerful prize on the face of the earth. Or as Mel Brooks taught us to scream, "It's good to be the King!" I don't know anyone in history who has risen to the top who caters to anyone; and, again, look at the fact that PBHO was not elected to office by blacks. Yeah, great support; but it was whites who put him on top. I know crackers don't want to believe that; but the truth - that word - is PBHO was elected by all colors.
That'll shock 'em!
From Illinois: "I really enjoyed your election material. I really did learn what you were teaching between the lines and with all your tail-twisting. It was great! I believe that Belvidere is not your last stop in God's plan. You are going to be on a national talk show soon."
Hold on, cowboy! I think some syndicate should run the KDs and I'd like to spend a few radio hours a week with folks in the region and then the nation; just chatting and thinking and KDing (you can call 'em and make the suggestion). Maybe I could pick up a few bucks and pay off the plastic/Caliber, get a chrome pony, and spread some wealth around. But even though I'm not that appreciated in Belvidere and folks are still transferring their pathologies from the past to me, I really feel called to Mural City. Besides, I just made a deal with a really substantial citizen and member that I'm here for the duration. He said he'd really fork over for the building program if I stay. I said I planned to stay anyway...and he better fork over!
From Virginia: "I have read your columns. It's refreshing to find a truly smart, educated person who is not on the far left. Thank you for having the courage to speak up for Biblical Christianity without fetters."
Thank you! That means a lot to me after yesterday. I was betrayed twice in two days by folks who've been defended by me a lot more than they'll ever know. Truth is I bleed like everybody else; but considering His blood, I carry on with saints like you.
From Florida: "I think you need to be a columnist some place. Someday I would love to pick your brain about how people like myself need to posture themselves out in the secular workplace."
Candidly, dear friend, you're already doing a great job; but keep reading and invite me down for a revival or something. I need the $ and I love to talk about Jesus; uh, please reverse that order! Conversely, I feel like Bryant Kirkland who often said, "I would like to tell you everything I know, but I don't have five minutes.
Let's close with a quote from the last great President (RR) as we pray PBHO is the next one: "Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it, have never know it again.
Are you listening America?
Are you listening Church?
Go back to Matthew 16:24-28.
Blessings and Love!