Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Truth and Grace

No normal, healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he simply chooses God’s will, just as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. And no saint should ever dare to interfere with the lesson of suffering being taught in another saint’s life.  
~ Oswald Chambers

Twenty plus years ago I was deep in a struggle with a family crisis. One day, desperate for diversion, I took a few hours to myself and wandered around aimlessly in the local mall. I found myself drawn to a Lifeway bookstore. 

A book, yes, that would be a nice break, I thought. 

Nothing seemed right to me though. My soul was parched, my spiritual well dry, and sorely in need of refilling. As I was leaving, empty-handed, I glanced over to the right wall and saw a bright blue cover. I walked over and picked up my introduction to Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest.

All these years later, having read the 365 devotionals over and over again, I am still learning from this man’s wisdom that is neither self-help, nor modern mindfulness. In many ways, it can be described as being theological tough love. 

More than once I have been convicted by his words, written more than a hundred years ago. Apparently what is true is always true, no matter the era.

During the first year of reading My Utmost, I can almost relive each epiphanic experience coming face to face with a truth sharp as any finely honed sword. It always cut me and left an indelible mark. As a result, I’m pretty notched up, spiritually speaking.

I recall one startling truth, in particular, that changed my whole life view on how humans often interfere with what God is doing by good intentioned intervening. Because though we are called to goodness, love, and all things charitable, we aren’t intuitive enough to see when our interpretations of love, goodness and charity are not necessarily in sync with God’s view.

Being only human, I fall back on the excuse - I’m only human. If I believe someone needs a hand up and I am able to give it, I instinctively want to reach out. On more than one occasion, I can attest, this has not turned out well and my good intentions simply caused more harm than good and/or at the very least a setback. Again, though I fall back and perhaps even hide behind the rationale that I was just doing a good deed, my excuse that I was only trying to help seems lame once it has been revealed to me as stepping over the line where I should not have ventured. And then I have to repent for intruding where my intervention was not necessary nor requested.

You see, in the journey toward spiritual maturity, we occasionally happen upon  a crossroads where we must stop and consider that when we do not know the direction we should go if we decide to go with the path that looks good to the world instead of waiting on God to give us some input, we are likely to find ourselves on a thorny, rough road. Sometimes we even end up bleeding for the choice. 

So, the question is begged, how does one know when to step up and help someone else ... or not? How can you know when God is bringing someone else around via a tribulation put in place specifically for them or, instead, presenting you with an opportunity to be His eyes, hands, feet? 

Frankly, I’m still working on that one. Thus far I have figured out, though, that every circumstance will present a different answer - do, don’t, or just let go and let God. I suspect the deepest truth of how we make our decisions hides within the world view, so embedded in our psyches, that performing an act of charity defines us as heroes. Who doesn’t like to be thought of as a hero? 

But the downside is that we are not here to be known as heroes. We are only expected to empty ourselves of ‘self’ and learn how to pay attention to the still small voice. To learn to listen, obey and trust is probably one of the toughest levels to pass in the never ending lessons in the School of Christ.

For Him,

When we are consciously aware of being used as broken bread and poured-out wine, we have yet another level to reach—a level where all awareness of ourselves and of what God is doing through us is completely eliminated. A saint is never consciously a saint—a saint is consciously dependent on God. 

~ Oswald Chambers

Friday, March 16, 2018

Oh The Irony!

This post has been simmering for awhile. I needed the exact right push to finish it. And not a small measure of courage.

Recently we watched Chicago Med, which I can take it or leave it - so much agenda pushed - but that’s pervasive in TV and movies now so you deal with it or choose to not turn on the TV at all. Which, I’m considering to be a viable option.

On this episode of CM there’s one character I just despise for all she represents, though. She’s a pediatric specialist in the ER. Self-righteous, obnoxious and she literally yells at patients who don’t live like she believes everyone should - you know, like her, so perfect in all ways, her passion for all things ‘right’ spilling out in dramatic rants. Pretty much a rep for liberalism.

And, as is so typical, they have made fun of Christians by representing them as fundamentalist nut jobs and that sort of thing, but in this episode a 2 yr old baby came in with whooping cough. So, it starts out as the mom saying that she had the first phase of her shots and the lib ped doc, offered that she probably wasn’t completely immune then. After a few breaks from the sponsors, it comes out that the mom’s sister doesn’t vaccinate her kid and he had had a ‘mild cold’ recently. So, the immediate assumption was that the boy had probably had whooping cough (really?) and then exposed the baby cousin, logic being an unnecessary brain function when agenda is called on to prevail. 

Here’s the subtle part though - the old argument has been that kids who are not vaccinated should not be around other kids - even if they are vaccinated, but the logic is blown because if the vaccine works exposure shouldn’t matter. To counter that, (action/reaction, measure/counter-measure, we’ve talked about this...) now the narrative is that SOME kids are vulnerable to being unprotected, even if vaccinated, so the kids that aren’t are basically carriers and toxic threats to the population at large. 

Two scenes really raised my blood pressure - the one where lib ped doc yells at the parents, in front of their son, in the ER, basically accusing them of being practically criminals and demanding they take their son out immediately. IMMEDIATELY! Like that would happen in real life, but in LaLa Land real is not what they are going for.

But then, later, she and another doctor, her current love interest, were discussing it all over coffee and she declared with rising zealousness that the science is proven [!] and the naysayer vaccine objector was ‘discredited’ [!] and what is the matter with people who just believe what they want to believe and put poor babies like the patient at risk! [!!!]

Agenda so thick you could cut it with a knife. 

But it dawned on me that the drug companies seem to own the narrative of evening MS TV so, given that the ones paying the bills are entitled to pushed whatever furthers their purpose, it makes sense to simply follow the money. Every other ad during prime time is for yet another drug that has a litany of contradictory side effects that often sound ten times worse than the disease it is supposed to treat “and in some rare cases death”.

And yet, the uplifting visual of happy beautiful people, going about their lives, even as the sound track of a list of horrific side effects drones on, successfully neutralizes logic and reason. How clever. 

Am I the only person who questions the absurdity of drug companies being allowed to advertise their products to the general public? It’s not unlike a manufacturer of a line of goods that can only be purchased by another business spending millions of dollars to advertise to end users who cannot buy the goods themselves. 

If a drug can only be purchased via a prescription from a licensed physician, what is the point of pushing the drug on prime time TV to those who can’t buy it off the shelf?  Well, I guess Big Pharma needs all the help it can get to spread the word that the products they make are out there. 

“Ask your doctor if [fill in the blank] is right for you.” 

Frankly, were I a doctor, who spent years and a fortune to earn my right to diagnose a patient, the last thing I’d appreciate is my patient asking if I would prescribe a drug because it was advertised. But that’s just me.

I’ve been interested in this topic for awhile now and so every time I see a new drug announced via a sparkling energized representation of how great life can be if you just asked your doctor to put you on this miracle in a pill, I note the name. It’s become something of a joke for me because, crazy imagination that I have, I visualized the way they come up with the names. 

I see a group of corporates sitting around a conference table. They draw numbers from a hat.  A die is cast and the winning numbers get to pick letters - perhaps from their names or names from their kids. The resulting combinations form the new name for the latest, greatest drug. Here’s the list so far:


I rest my case. 

Well, except for one more thing - How ironic is it when a drug ad comes on and is often followed by an attorney’s plea for you to contact him if you have been injured (or killed) by a drug that has been pulled off the market? 

So much irony you could build a battleship. 

For Him,

ps - If you happen to read a news item about a grandmother in Georgia who committed suicide by shooting herself in the head - twice - ask your doctor if that's possible. :-)

Monday, March 12, 2018

To Be Or Not To Be

Within The Matrix, the most frequently used successful operating system is hypocrisy. It is actually the foundational support beneath well-crafted illusion. 

The Matrix cannot exist without it.

Hypocrisy, as defined, sounds ugly and distasteful, a thing to be scorned and avoided. But sheltered within The Matrix, hypocrisy gets a mask to wear, something that then makes it much more acceptable to ever changing human sensibilities.

The hypocrisy behind the mask sounds even better than it looks. It’s smooth talking, cordial, diplomatic, intellectual, and appeals in rich pleasant tones to the internal desires of humans to be flattered, uplifted and encouraged, even if the words are empty and have no end game other than to persuade and herd to its dark agenda.

The success of hypocrisy’s purpose depends on that which is delivered, with emotion and gentility, those words that only resonate with the perception of goodness and virtue, and as such will be embraced to be the truth with no questions asked. Therefore, hypocrisy, with the help of illusion, presents itself, first and foremost, as righteous, charitable, all embracing, egalitarian, accepting, fair, and moral. Above all else, hypocrisy declares itself to be the standard and thus the ultimate champion of high morality.

But unfortunately, within The Matrix everything is illusion, so there is no substantive truth allowed. The marks, aka citizens, are the masses who have been gently conditioned to prefer the good-sounding words, the charming lies, the eloquently delivered self-righteous demand that those who dare to speak truth with rough and raw words must be silenced!

Truth, in any form, is not welcome in The Matrix and must be challenged.

The irony, of course, is that those who pump fists in the air and complain about distasteful rough truth allowed to escape into the perfectly ordered Matrix, are, at the same time, those who openly embrace and give golden awards to every level of immoral behavior expressed in writing, music and film spewed out daily onto the populace, young and old, like projectile vomit.

The question is therefore begged: who can claim to be the Morality Police when there is no genuine morality - anywhere? How can any standard be enforced if all standards have been decimated?

In The Matrix where we are not only allowed but encouraged to cherry pick our sensibilities, where words and meanings are often redesigned and retrofitted to the concepts du jour, where silk illusions are expertly woven and preferred over utilitarian burlap truth, is a world knee-deep in hypocrisy so debilitating that there is no remedy that humankind could ever muster of and by itself.

While I may not be able to fully understand why this has to be, I do fear that this condition cannot ever right itself at this far-gone point. A day of reckoning is over-due. And while I might have to live here, I do not have to buy in. So, though I might stand alone in outing this, I admit to preferring a rough textured, raw truth over a good sounding smooth lie - any day.

Unfortunately, those who wear the mask that fronts hypocrisy are too blinded by their own goodness to know that they are not real.

And there’s the rub.

For Him,