USA Bless God

Music Monday

MERRY INDEPENDENCE DAY USA

 

“God Bless the USA”  Lee Greenwood

 

 

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Have Trident, Will Travel.

Why is the devil red? Where did the notion come from that Satan is a hulking red brute with menacing chiseled features: protruding brow supporting ominous speared horns and hides sunken yellow eyes; a hardened jaw line framing a ravenous mouth of abnormally long, piercing incisors that look to shred the most tensile metal; a sniping tail that wields to unexpectedly pierce lustfully at the nearest flesh? (Perhaps some of you good Cybermaritans could research these origins for me?)

i did a little research and found the first recorded public encounter with Satan occurs in the Bible, the book of Genesis, Chapter 3. He is in the form of a serpent. Encountering the serpent, Eve is not repulsed, frightened or even intimidated. She simply enters into conversation. Subtle… isn’t it?

This is how evil comes into my life. Not to disregard the heinous evil that many fall victim to in violent crime or betrayal. But the vast majority of us experience evil in seemingly benign means. Perhaps it’s the simply our own justification of a want or desire. Small, sometimes well-meant occurrences that fester into vices and lifestyles beyond our control: A white lie to deflect an argument, judgment, or make ourselves look better in the mind of others escalates into perjury; a quick lustful glimpse at a beauty on the street wrings into a dark pornographic sex addiction; a toke on a joint hurricanes to a heroin overdose; a compromise of values in a moment of desperation explodes to habitual crime. (i hope hyperbole is not lost  here.)

Whatever the situation, evil usually starts with a selfish desire. We all like to think we are important. And you are!! God thinks you are. But it’s when we think we are more important than someone else, our needs and desires come before others, this is where the lie begins.

In our Western culture our desires are catered and manipulated every day. Any salesperson on the planet worth his salt will tell you that the art of selling is to appeal to your emotions and desires, convince you that you need this product/service more than life itself. The common television viewer observes well over 70 of these appeals daily. Add to this print, radio, internet, and other advertising media, the average American is exposed to roughly 3000 appeals daily. WOW! In a recent study, education scientist Dr. Norman Herr noted that the average American child observes   20,000 30-second TV commercials. UNBELIEVABLE!!

Like the serpent who baited Eve with half-truths, telling her what she wanted to hear, appealing to her desire… so go our own hearts. We don’t need the devil in snakeskin… we’re bombarded countless times a day with fancy indulgence since we could turn the channel from Sesame Street. It’s not just advertisers. Every one of us puts on our salesman persona now and again to placate our friend, neighbor, co-worker, spiritual leader, counselor, supervisor, parent, significant other, child, and …yes, even God.

With a society that caters to our every whim of self-importance and entitlement, it’s no wonder we feel deserving and indulgent and that, “I am the most important person on the planet.” So if you’re wait is more than five minutes in the fast food drive through you pitch a fit. “Where’s my damn burger?!” How ridiculous is that?? It wasn’t long ago that you would have had to milk the cow, age the cheese, slaughter and butcher another cow, grind the wheat, make the dough, build the fire, bake the buns, flame broil the beef… you haven’t even had time to think about condiments because you’ve starved to death making a cheeseburger (with all due respect to my vegetarian/vegan friends–you gotta love the cheeseburger). But today you can’t wait five minutes, so you scream at the poor teenage girl making $1.07 an hour, who did little more than take your cash in trade for a meal. Is that evil?! Not to some… but selfishness manifested as anger that seeks only self-satisfaction is as ugly as the proverbial satanic visage.  Just remember that then next time a well dressed person tells you what you want to hear.

~End antler~

Separation of Church and State

i spent the age of twenty to forty in vocational ministry. Most of this time as a Pastor in mega churches. i encountered many types of Christians every day. Most of these would consider themselves to be people who believe the Bible, taking it at face value. They would also say that they live out what they believe on a daily basis. A large part of my role as Pastor was to encourage people to live out their faith in a real manner wherever they may be, whatever they may be doing.

At forty years old i found myself beginning a business career. Looking back over this time, there have been amazing situations that have occurred. Outside of the “church” bubble I’ve made some great relationships and God has used me in these people’s lives in fascinating ways. I have had the opportunity to counsel, encourage, and even pray with business associates to enter a relationship with God through His Son’s sacrifice. These work place “ministry” encounters occur quite often.

So… why, in decades of being a pastor and dealing with literally thousands of “Christians” who are living on the outside of a “Christian” aquarium, have i rarely heard about the types of accounts in the work place and daily life as i have personally experienced in a few short years? Is it because these situations find me; or i’m seeking them out; or i’m more sensitive to seeing them? i don’t think so.

There appear to be two major issues at work: complacency and compartmentalization. Perhaps there are many Christians who are sensitive to opportunity to minister the love of God to others on the job or in the grocery store. Yet, they feel inadequate to take action, or just don’t care enough to act or speak boldly in love. Others, it would seem, segregate their Christian world view at home and church from who they are in the work place, or out and about.

i was recently watching an old Billy Graham crusade. He addressed this same issue several decades ago. Mr. Graham inferred that many of us call ourselves “Christian,” go to church, talk the talk, but when it comes down to it we really don’t live like we believe the Scripture, that God is real. He used the illustration that we should imagine the risen Christ, Jesus the Son of God, as being literally at our side in all that we do.

What Billy Graham was really getting at was the essence of coram Deo, a Latin term meaning “being before the face of God,” living as if God’s very presence were literally before us: He is sitting beside us at work; enjoying our meals with us; cheering on our favorite team next to us in the stadium.

i think this is a similar concept that Paul refers to in 1 Thessalonians 5.17 when he refers to “pray without ceasing.” Paul’s point is that we continually direct our thoughts to God. Similarly, coram Deo looks to direct our speech and action as if God were literally beside us. If this were the case, how would our actions and reactions change in our day to day existence? How would our life perspective be transformed? How would our preconception of others be altered?

How would your relationships change if you lived coram Deo? What would be different at work, with your neighbors, family, friends?

~End insulation~

What i Forgot (about Memorial Day)

With roots shortly following the Civil War, with over 600,000 lives lost, a day was later formally recognized to honor those who had given all in that great conflict, both blue and gray. Since the establishment of Memorial Day, it has come to be recognized to honor all that have fallen in service to protect the interests of freedoms and liberties of the United States of America.

As one who follows and believes in the God of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, i also like to remember those who have lost their lives through the ages for their spiritual beliefs and faith that Jesus is the Son of God. May we remember and honor the fallen as we enjoy or mini-cations, impromptu barbeques and weekend gatherings. More importantly, may we remember to carry on standing, representing, and preserving everything for which they sacrificed their lives.

~End observance~

Into the “O”pen Void

Momentarily safe, having received a temporary reprieve from the pending apocalypse, the vast populace of a great nation turn their hearts of attention towards the truly immense tragedy of the day: No, not the recent devastation of flooding in Memphis, or tornado havoc in Joplin, or even the deadly tornadoes that have just swept through Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas. Today the focus is on a true misfortune as we bid farewell to the one who has lifted our hopes in times of fear; held our hand through uncertainty; swelled our hearts with laughter; dried our tears; exposed liars and cheats; brought monkey-like couch-jumping celebs into our living rooms; has become a friend who sticks closer than a sister.

Today Oprah Winfrey broadcasts the last episode of her long running talk show. From humble beginnings Oprah has risen to become one of the most powerful, influential, and wealthiest people in the world. I’m not sure how this happened. But you know you’ve arrived when you can drop your last name and just go by Oprah. Like Cher, Madonna, or … Jesus. You must really be special if you can then drop the suffix of you first name and be known as simply your first initial, “O.” Seriously, God doesn’t even get that type of notoriety. If i said i was reading about “J” having dinner with his twelve closest pals, who would be sure to whom i was referring? But if i say that “O” did such and such… you know who it is.

To be fair, i’ve never actually seen a full episode of O’s show. But i did see “The Color Purple.” Let’s not dismiss all the good O has accomplished. She has done incredible philanthropic work in Africa and Chicago. She has put authors on top of the New York Times Best Seller list. She has made the most invulnerable celebrity feel as though they were closest kin. She put Dr. Phil on TV. Oh the wonders of O, she has indeed done many amazing things. It is undeniably a sad day for most of America …nay… the world. Who will ever take O’s place, to be our comforter, our hope, fill us with joy, wipe our tears, fill our hearts and our homes? …J?!

~End O~