Not long after Maggie came into our lives, Jeanne and I began praying for the day we all now share. I am sure that Jim and Betty did the same for their son, Jarod. The occasion of the marriage of our daughter and the man to whom she has pledged herself has now arrived.
This good day is a happy time, a celebration, and a solemn commemoration. As you have just heard, two of the BOBs (Brothers of the Bide), Sam and Max have expressed their happiness over the acquisition of their new “big brother”. It should be noted that BOB #3, Charlie, has also rendered an enthusiastic endorsement of his sister’s decision and looks forward to the blessings this relationship will bring to his life.
It is to these testimonies and those already spoken that my wife Jeanne and I now stand, with the chorus of family and friends gathered here in agreement to congratulate Maggie and Jarod and, entrust them to the care of their vows to each other. This is, I suspect, one of those special times in life when so many people can so freely be in singular agreement.
We all wish you well…….
That the joy of your hearts be fulfilled in each other and overflowing to others,
That your “I, Me, and Mine” becomes instead the “Our, We, and Us”,
That the expression of your love for each other yields the fruit that God ordains and,
for which He promises to provide and,
That in all the matters of your lives you remember from whence you came,
Who it is that has given to you His everlastings promises and,
Before Whom, when all is said and done in this world,
You will stand to show yourself a “good and faithful servant.”
To these wishes I would include the admonition to seek wisdom and understanding. Now, perhaps more than any previous time in history you will need the consolation and blessings of the LORD, for these are the days which the Prophets of the Old and New Testaments longed to see. The bad guys have been given the high ground in the spheres of power throughout the world as Biblical Prophecy is being fulfilled in real time. Technology has made this information unavoidable and decisions will be demanded of you. Pray for discernment.
In considering the preeminence of prayer in the life of Christ we see our LORD leading by example; as the Incarnation of the Divine on the Mount of Transfiguration, the newly baptized God-Man fasting alone in the desert for those 40 days, the Lamb of God sweating blood in the Garden, and as the suffering servant abandoned on the cross. Follow Him to those places He would take you to be alone with Him. Make room in the closet of your hearts for the voice of the Holy Spirit. Learn to pray……. without ceasing.
You will also need to learn to pray collectively. Jarod has been ordained as the head of your family and that job description includes the growing weights of responsibility for you, your household, and the name you now carry. Pray that he becomes wise in the things of the LORD.
Some married couples claim they “never fight.” At best this is an unrealistic statement. How can two sinners living in this fallen world not come into conflict? The nature of life and the changes it brings to us (see sanctification) will inevitably create points of friction as one partner moves in a direction or pace different from the other. This is where wisdom must be applied. Learn what roles are fixed and which duties are discretionary. As members of the post-modern generation this may raise challenges for both Jarod and yourself. Have no fear of fighting. Pray that both of you become discerning in the matters of “space” learning when to close on the targets of your hearts and throw your arms around each other or render/receive a figurative “kick in the butt”. Choose rather to seek the mediation of the Holy Spirit to understand emotional warfare and practice both the graceful surrender and the Castle Doctrine.
Your wedding ceremony featured excerpts from the “love chapter” of the Bible. It is an encouraging notion that “loves never fails.” In this promise God gives hope in times of trial and points to faith as your roadmap. A road-sign sure to be seen along this path will remind you that “love holdeth no grudges.” Learn to forgive.
The flow of 1st Corinthians 13 involves spiritual and emotional maturation as well as Pharisaical distinctions. Forgiving the transgressions of others is wisely established if with an acute awareness of your own failures before the Most High God and the abundant mercies He has applied to your own account. In other words, be merciful to others just as God has been merciful to you. But, if hurt you must, be quick to dress and care for the wounds inflicted. Tears can be antiseptic.
All these thoughts mean nothing if not animated by the love which comes from God, and that is what we wish for the both of you. And, if your love be of God, it must grow and endure as the cement that binds your hearts together. Just as the marriage bed must be a sanctuary for the married couple, so too must the repository of trust in the hearts of the beloved. With great jealousy guard your thoughts and your hearts from all intruders, including the pride of your human nature.
You have chosen to begin your walk along the path of life together at a time when your journey will be littered with the debris of a society in collapse. While it is the way of parents to wish for their children a brighter day that may have been their own we cannot but also lament the lay of the land we leave you. However, in spite of this world’s current tribulations we are satisfied, that by God’s grace what we sought to place in your hearts and minds through your education and in our late night prayers and conversations with you these past couple of years, you have been well prepared for what lies ahead. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and your hope in heaven.
As you shared your wedding vows we were, like many of the witnesses on the side of that hill outside Steamboat Springs, as well as those abiding in the clouds above, praying that God who watches over all, bless you, keep you and protect you. It is to Him that we commit your marriage, your hopes, your love, and your joy.
Once upon a time, there was a father and his little boy. The man was dutiful and taught his son diligence, the arts and sciences, and the importance of church as well. Every Sunday he would show him how and when to stand and kneel, fold his hands, and bow his head. The father showered his little boy with gifts of praise and gave him all his heart’s desire. His precious child was never without food, clothes, or shelter. Happily, and without exception, he blessed him with all the means at his disposal, and his son gained the materials for a life of riches and great achievement. By his father’s hand and words, the boy was never the subject of wrath, abuse, rebuke, or condescension. In all of his academic, professional, and personal life, he knew only success. He grew to seem a happy and fulfilled man.
Not far away, and at the same time, another little boy was born to a different father. This little boy had not a father such as told in the first story. This father was a selfish and uncaring man. To his son he bequeathed a life of deprivation, misery, and suffering. No gifts of praise or blessing came his way from the heart or hand of this indifferent and cruel father. The little boy’s body betrayed the hunger of his stomach and the void in his soul. His childhood brought no smile to his face, no laughter was heard in his voice. Great melancholy greeted him as an adult and pressed down on his spirit with an unremitting sense of utter abandonment.
At the end of his years, the first little boy surveyed his life. Moved along by the force of his father’s teachings, he set sail through a life of approval and the pleasures of his achievements. He found much satisfaction in his father’s precepts and built his life upon them. But, over time, slowly and almost imperceptibly, he lost the brightness in his eyes which was his common fare in childhood. The easy feeling in his heart vanished as well, and in its place came a sense of foreboding and uncertainty. Bewilderment consumed his last days. He had abundance surrounding him, but his heart was empty, save for anxiety and fear. In the end he had no peace, and neither was hope his final blessing.
As his life was different from the first little boy, so too was the end for the second man. The emptiness of his heart grew large through childhood, and matured into a desperate need for what he knew not. Time and again he tried to fill the void inside himself. He searched for understanding but came upon confusion; he sought out knowledge but was deceived; he surrendered to his passions only to find his self-respect cast aside. But, the man pressed on, searching, hoping, and praying. Then, with desperation nearly overwhelming him, there began to grow within him a certainty in the rightness of his cause. That certainty gave rise to a promising hope and continued growing, taking on form and substance. His sense of hope deep inside him grew stronger and spread through his soul. When his days became few, he came to know in his mind and hold close to his heart, the peace which had never been his. In the last moments of his life a wonderful smile washed over his face, and with great expectation, he slowly closed his eyes.
Who was the good father?
Adapted from a sermon by the great 18th century American Puritan Pastor and Reformed Theologian, Jonathan Edwards.
We are all dust. But, some particles of dust become spores which may contain deadly diseases. At this point, strong medicine must be used to prevent the toxic effects of those spores on themselves and the particles of dust not possessing immunity. In the case of physical disease the fields of operation may be biochemical or surgical. In those diseases of heart and soul, the warfare takes place in the arena of ideas where knowledge and understanding reign supreme.
The tactics of assaulting strongholds of misinformation or deception consist in the delivery systems of communication. And, for sentient creatures, the weapons of choice are written and spoken languages.
Words have meaning. But we understand with more than just our intellect. The beauty of my wife, which draws me near to her, is an effect upon my heart, and by it I make my judgment. Love is gentle, forgiving, and kind, and another run at the prize is permitted, indeed, demanded by the passions.
But woe, to the man who relies on his heart when it deceives him in matters of the highest magnitude. The concrete realities know nothing of grace and forgiveness, and the finality of death can only make naïve an expectation of grace when the opportunity for mercy is ended.
Those who perpetrate a false assurance as to the status of one’s soul are not, however, the enemy. They are, like us, of the flesh and, as such, they are secondary targets. What they believe, how they think, and the content of their understanding are to be taken captive. It is by challenging erroneous ideas with the glaring light of truth that wrong thinking is exposed and the long process of rehabilitation is begun. Only by changing your mind can the lie be vanquished, and make no mistake… we’ve all been lied to.
Few, these days, seem inclined to engage the battle. Fewer yet are even aware that a very real war for their mind is raging. This war, from the beginning of time itself, allows for no safe haven, or nation of neutrality. And, as mortal creatures in this time and space we enjoy no exemption for accountability. The concrete realities will search you out for sure.
And, so too, the Spirit of God, who judges all things rightly; including our souls.
The stakes can be no greater than a person’s future and eternal residence. That’s what spiritual warfare is all about. In the end it, its all about heaven or hell. So, let the words fly and the arguments begin.
“Christmas is comin’ up and, my boy, Max would really get a kick out of hearing from Santa.”
“Whadaya want me to do?”
“Well, you can tell him what Herbie said.”
Steve was familiar with some of my schtick with the pseudo-friends in the fantasy world I’d built for them. But, to divulge the true identity of certain characters could be, for me, a professional risk. I had, after all, a reputation to maintain. His shift was ending and mine was starting.
We worked on a psychiatric unit of a major metro hospital. If you thought you were Jesus, or if you were beating the hell out of yourself and wanted to die, Steve and I were the people you would meet at the hospital. The paranoid, the crazy, the terminally depressed, the lonely and confused, the drunks and junkies, or anyone else who could make it past the ER doc’s came to our unit. A pop-up in my head said “go for it,” and so I did.
“He’s an elf, man. He works in Santa’s toy shop. But, he really wanted to be a dentist. Don’t you know the story?”
“No, I ‘m afraid I don’t. Wanna tell me all about it?”
Slowly, Steve leaned back in his chair and folded his arms across his massive chest. His smile morphed into a look of feigned curiosity on a round and ruddy face, framed with long white hair with a few days growth away from a full white beard. I kicked back from my computer, and submitted evidence in support of my petition. I began with the story of my son losing a tooth.
It was shortly after his birthday in September. The routine was familiar to Max, so he washed his baby molar nice and clean and put it under his pillow with great expectations of finding, in the morning, a gift from the Tooth Fairy. Unfortunately, he was wrong on two accounts. First, his father had recently expunged any and all references to “fairies” from the household lexicon. This was his father’s flailing attempt at pushing back against the political correctness encroaching on the sacred ground of traditional language and his parental responsibilities. At least, that’s the way his father saw it. Secondly, his father explained to Max that because he lived in the country the entity now known as the Tooth Angel (an association more closely identified with his father’s evangelical religious orientation) might, in fact, have some difficulty finding Max’s house. The excuse was lame, even by elves standards, but did serve the purpose of deflecting his son’s repeated inquiries about the absence of the expected TRDF, or “Tooth Replacement Delivery Flight.”
When November pushed away October and his shiny tooth remained under his pillow, Max asked his father if the reason the Tooth Angel had yet to arrive was because it was too cold outside. “It’s almost Thanksgiving, Dad. What if Jenny The Tooth Angel can’t find our house because of the snow?” His worry increased with each added contingency. “And, and, and, what if her tiny wings freeze up,” he asked nervously?
Poor little fellow, trying desperately to reason his way out of the conundrum of confusion surrounding his understanding of “Tooth Replacement Theory”, or TRT. It was at this point that Daddy lit upon the “Path of Embellished Explanations,” or PEE.
But before I could continue, my narrative was interrupted by a soft and gentle hand grasping my right shoulder from behind. The soothing voice of Cleopatra, the night Charge Nurse, came as a whisper to my left ear.
“All this talk about an elf named Herbie,” she said. “I just don’t know if that’s a really good thing for you right now.”
She and Steve began to laugh. “There’s a private room at the end of the hall,” Steve said. “We could put him there.”
“That’s a good idea,” Her Highness replied.
Then, she turned to me and said with the compelling authority of her many years of clinical experience, “Now, how about a cheese sandwich, and maybe a couple benzo’s?” We can talk about all these Elves and missing teeth later today after you see the doctor, Hmmmmmmm? Whadaya think?”
I pressed on, making my case for the Cavalcade of Christmas Characters I’d created for my boy. The Queen of the Nile sat down next to Steve and asked what we were talking about.
As I spoke she removed her right leg, flipped it so the sole of the foot faced up and the toes pointed forward. Whipping out a Cigarillo, she lit up, and slipped her smoke between a couple of toes she had filed out in order to make her prosthetic leg a mobile ashtray. Fortunately, we worked at a hospital that hadn’t succumbed to all that “smoking is bad for you” hysteria. Lot’s of staff were professional wheezers, and it made Cleopatra feel right at home. She suggested I reconsider continuing with this unnecessary and utterly irrelevant tangent. So, I shook off the flashback and brought her up to speed.
“I was just telling Santa here about one of his elves,” I replied, regaining my bearing.
“Santa? Who’s Santa?” the good Queen queried.
“He is,” I said, pointing to Steve with my arm fully extended.
She gave a lengthy pause and stared open-mouthed at him, whereupon Steve sheepishly confessed to his newly assumed dual identity. A look of confusion erupted across her face and gave way to more royal laughter as Her Majesty asked, “Has this been going on for a long time, now? Should I prepare a sedative for you, too?”
“You might want to get a few sedatives ready,”……., and here Steve paused, “cause there’s actually what, two or three of us, or me,” he stuttered.
“Huh,” Cleopatra puffed?
“Let me see if I can help here,” I offered. “Steve is gonna be Santa for my son, Max. But, before he does that, he’s gotta be Tonto, cause that’s his e-mail name, and Max needs an e-mail address to call Herbie to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas, so I can get it for him. Get it?”
“What I will get is a couple of sedatives,” Cleopatra replied. Glancing at Steve, she offered, “You guys want to bunk together at the end of the hall? You seem like a match.”
Steve, and our Royal Charge Nurse knew a little about my boy’s disabilities. I had given them some history on Max and his florid imagination, and Steve seemed to have taken a liking to my son. I was usually guarded in discussions concerning my boys disabilities, but I figured I could trust him and the Good Queen. So, I opened up a bit and drove my points.
Kids with disabilities tend not to have many friends, and Max was no exception. Steve understood this from a clinical point of view, and so did the Queen of the Nile. The room became quiet as I told the story of how important it was to Max that he learned to walk so that he could play with friends, and how Daddy found Herbie.
Well, Max worked real hard, just like his older brother, Sammy, who had the same disability. Both of them used their walkers inside the house during the winter and outside in the summer. Up and down the sidewalk and around the yard on the grass, they would walk. Their Mom had set up rest stops so they could sit down and rest up after walking about 50 feet. After wiping their brows and having a drink from their Sippy Cup, off they would go, Sam leading in front and Max bringing up the rear. Day after day they would work hard, the both of them hoping to learn to walk someday.
But, sometimes they would fall. And, sometimes it would really hurt when they hit the ground. Once, Max cut his face and needed stitches over his left eye. Another time he fell flat on his face because he couldn’t get his hands up in front of him to protect himself. Sammy would fall, too. Outside church one morning, Daddy slipped on the ice while carrying Sammy, and both of them hit the deck. Sammy’s head went “crack” when he hit the sidewalk. Sammy said it was real scary, and it made him cry. But, Max had the worst fall of all.
One day, just before Christmas, Max went shopping with Mom. He wanted to get a present for his cat Eddy, when he tripped and fell at the store. Mom said she could hear the sound when Max’s head hit the floor and she knew it was a bad fall. Max immediately went to sleep right there on the floor in front of the check-out aisle. Then, he had a really bad seizure. It took a long time for an ambulance to get their and Max wouldn’t wake up for the longest time. When he started turning blue in the face, Mom thought she might need to help him breath. All the while Mom was praying and trying to help Max she felt like crying, but she had to take care of Charlie too, who was sitting in a stroller next to her.
A nice lady, who also was a nurse, came to help Mom with Charlie, and finally the ambulance came. Max woke up when he was on his way to the hospital. His head started hurting real bad. In the emergency room they took some pictures of his head. A nice doctor came to see him and told him he had a fracture in his skull just behind and above his right ear. That made Mom and Dad real worried. They asked if there was any blood shown on the pictures and the doctor said,”No.” No blood, no surgery; that’s what Daddy thought.
Mom and Dad started praying very hard for Max. And, they asked everybody they knew to pray, too. Some of them did, like Soozy the Secretary on the station where Dad worked, some of the nurses, and even Tonto.
While he was in the hospital, Santa decided to come and see Max to cheer him up. He really did! Dad even got his picture with a United States Military Escort. I think the Marines might really have been Borkus and The Squealer in disguise. You never know. I think Santa did that because none of the guys from church, those Max wanted to be his friends, well, they never called or sent a card, or anything. What gives with that?
Dad went back to the story about Max working so hard to learn to walk. There was just one problem. When they did learn to walk, who could they play with? Who would come to visit? Who would call them or e-mail them? Dad wondered what he could do about that. He began to think real hard about friends for Max. One morning, Dad woke up with an idea and told Mom all about it.
“I know what I’m gonna do,” Dad told Mom with a smile. “What’s that, sweetie? “Mom asked.
“I’m gonna get some friends for Max,” Daddy said with a smile even bigger than the first one. “And then, he’ll be happy because he won’t be so lonely.” “That’s wonderful, “Mommy squealed, and rushed up to Daddy to give him a kiss and a hug. “Where are they,” she asked excitedly?
Slowly, with great big eyes and the biggest smile, Daddy raised his pointy finger and tapped the side of his head. “Right here,” he said triumphantly!
Max’s tooth was still under his pillow on Thanksgiving, so Daddy called up the North Pole and asked Herbie H. Herbsen, chief of all elves working the night shift in the toy shop if he would tell Santa to ask Jenny to get on the stick and make TRDF. The weather was getting bad, maybe even too cold for a night flight into a Minnesota winter. Max was worried that she might have wing problems and maybe even crash.
“But, Jenny was out to Max’s house yesterday,” Herbie said over the super-secret number on the secure telephone line. “She was here, last night,” Daddy asked loud enough for Max to hear? “She hurt her foot? Is it bad?”
Herbie explained to Daddy that Jenny hurt her foot when she crashed into the wall of the house and fell to the ground after a blast of wind hit her while attempting a night landing outside his bedroom window. Relaying that information to Max, Daddy also said that Herbie gave him his assurance that a replacement Angel would make another flight very soon. Curiously, and unknown to Max, the TRDF would take place the morning following Mommy’s shopping trip to Wal-Mart.
Herbie, therefore, as Daddy explained it, became the hub of the Wheel of Excited Expectations, or WEE. All contacts, for TRDF and the ramp up to Christmas were to go through the chubby little elf with the squeaky voice and thick glasses. Daddy explained to Steve and Cleopatra that he soon learned Herbie would not be able to fulfill all his imaginary responsibilities in the vast cavern that was Max’s mind. Herbie needed help. And so, Daddy went into a voluntary short-stay coma (curiously resembling a post-prandial nap) and came out after the supper dishes were done with some names that would prove to be of help in perpetuating the PEE.
Max needed a friend and the kids in town and the kids at church didn’t seem to care much about him. Max was very friendly. He was kind, and had a really big smile. But, the other kids were always doing something else and some of them thought he looked funny because of the way he walked. It was his disability that made him wobble, and stutter, and sometimes tremble with his hands. Daddy really didn’t know why they wouldn’t play with Max. Sometimes it made him mad. It even made Mommy cry.
When the replacement Tooth Angel made a successful flight, Daddy told Max her name was Ferbie. But, when Max lost another tooth and she was really late this time, Daddy was notified by those bulletins that Herbie posted in his head that Ferbie had crashed, too. It was because she was too chubby and couldn’t make it through the window screen.
“Wait a minute,” Steve interrupted. “I thought angels were spirits?”
“Yeah, what he said!” screeched the Queen of the Nile. They had their three feet up on chairs and her Majesty had opened my weekend supply of Cheetos. Washing down a handful of orange Styrofoam with some Cranberry juice she continued, “If they’re spirits why would they have to go through a screen window?”
“And, you guys actually went to college,” Daddy replied, slowly shaking his head with pronounced incredulity! “Didn’t they ever teach you in physics that the North Pole is shrouded in pulsating bands of increased magnetic resonance, and…, it kinda… like…, sometimes affects mass, space, and, like, time, too?”
“This is getting better and better,” Cleopatra said with a queenly chuckle. “First, it’s elves and teeth, then its fairies; no, I’m sorry, angels, and now it’s psychotic physics. Do you still have that sedative handy, Steve?” He waved her off with a giant paw of a hand and said, “Let’s wait until the end of the story.”
“You asked,” I reminded him, “about Herbie and the Angels. Here, have some more Cheetos,” and I poured him a large bowl full. “I’m almost finished.”
I patiently explained to my highly educated peers that Tooth Angels do, indeed, have mass. They are able to deliver tangible goods in three dimensions. However, because of that magnetic thingy and other phenomena, they also have the ability to change size at will, a phenomenon known as shape-shifting, both for themselves and their cargo, according to their flight instructions.
“Where do they get their instructions,” interrupted Steve, impatiently? “From The Squealer,” I replied. “Who’s he,” demanded the Queen? “Flight Director at the North Pole,” I answered. “Who packs the cargo, the gifts for your Tooth Angels, and all that stuff,” her Queeness continued? “Borkus and the boys,” I said quickly.
“Who-kus,” she probed?
“Borkus. Borkus B. Borson,” I offered. Anticipating their next question, I added, “Flight line personnel. And, yes, they are all elves. Hard workers all; built low to the ground, durable in inclement and cold weather. Borkus has a brother, you know. The Borson family is fairly prominent at the North Pole.”
“Steve asked, “What does the B stand for?” “Please, do tell,” agreed her Highness. “As you wish, Oh, Great One. He is known as Borkus Ben Borson,” I replied. “And, what’s his brother’s name,” Steve went on? “Stumpy,” I shot back. “Stumpy Borson? Sorry, doesn’t fit the flow, my man,” Steve said, his head hanging in disappointment.
“No, no, Steve! Don’t you get it?” the Queen interjected excitedly. She took a long and last draw on her stubby butt and blew a cloud of smoke into Steve’s face to bring him around. Her Royal eyes were fairly dancing. “He’s Stumpy S. Stumpson of the Stumpson family from the North Pole,” she said with a giggle. “Right?”
“Very good Your Majesty, but no Corona. The Stumpson’s are from the South Pole, “ I replied.
“Then, what’s he doing at the North Pole, and how come his name is different? How can he be Borkus’ brother if his last name is Stumpson?” Steve coughingly demanded. “Are we back in that tangent again?”
“I’m afraid we are Big Boy,” conceded the Great and Caring One.
“Some things can’t always be explained, Steve,” I interrupted. ” Like this tangent, I may have said more than I should have. Let’s just say it’s a mystery, and leave it at that,” I said finally.
It’s the same for all the others at the North Pole, whether in my head, or my son’s. Actually, it is pretty simple. You go where you gotta go to get what you need. Just open the door and it all pours out. Johnny Bahzing is the promo guy, Glonko J. Blonko Esq. is general counsel for Santa Claus, High Pants Slim is the tech guy, Jenny, Ferbie and her immature cousin Freebie are the Tooth Angels, and on and on it goes. Max loves it. And, he needs these guys, imaginary or otherwise.
I went for their throats and closed my story with an argument on behalf of compassion. I love my boys. But, I don’t like their disability’s and what it’s taken from them. I am amazed that so many people don’t get it. It frags my mind! They just walk right by Max, leaving him standing there with his shaky bird hands, and he’s wondering why nobody wants to hang out with him. I can just imagine his asking me, “Dad, what’s wrong with me? What did I do? Why don’t they like me?”
Until I figure this all out, Borkus and the boys have gotta help me. That’s where you come in.
Flash-mob eruptions in 2012, over the demands of Sandra Fluke, show an ominous connection between “religious” institutions and Liberalism’s agenda through the Democratic Party. The 30 year old student, a past president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice, evidently felt very strongly that any repression of her sexual expression was right-wing oppression. Unfortunately, her educational experience at Georgetown University, a Catholic institution, appears to have had little demonstrable impact on her critical thinking skills, as she speaks not with the wisdom of reasoned thought, but rather with the passions of an immature character development. Her rant, cloaked in the social justice motif of the left, demonstrates a gross disconnect between the Liberal’s notion of the “good” and their actual behavior. “What careth thee for me if I have not life and liberty”? is a question resonating in the distant darkness where abide 55 million testimonies against which Sandra and her ilk can never respond.
“War on Women, Redux,” is a media-directed drama starring Ms. Fluke in a misdirection play where our law student heroine is sent in motion babbling about the delusions of reproductive rights, in order to draw attention away from the actual goals of the players, who are none other than the infamous media/education/government establishment. The play, taken from the “Liberalism 101” handbook and inculcated in freshman, is stock in trade boilerplate used to inflame the prurient interests of the foolish and easily manipulated. Ultimately, these appeals are designed to cultivate a worldview in opposition to Judeo-Christian principles and, essentially crash the Republic by destroying the moral foundations of self-government. Actually, it’s a “twofer.” After destroying the individual’s existential anchor, they are reset as compliant grovelers prostrating themselves before the throne of government. It’s simply Alinsky. Not surprisingly, however, and given the craven appreciation of reality possessed by Americans, this play is yielding great success for the Left and all its fellow travelers.
And that’s a bad thing. For, if El Presidente Obama prevails in his take-down of America, a jack-booted dependency on the state will soon evolve with individual identity and personal freedoms being assigned by heartless bureaucrats. Ominously, it appears that religious leaders in America, by their muted responses to this administration’s gross incursions into the domain of the sacred have become, in fact, Obama associates and enablers.
It further appears that Catholic/Jesuit objections to providing for the reproductive services demanded by feminists such as Ms. Fluke, are rooted less in their church’s code of conduct, philosophy, or ethics, and more in the politics of power. Sandra, along with many of Georgetown’s faculty, insist others enjoin her crusade for entitlement. With manifest indifference, she demands that my children and I enable her Estrogen supplements, abortions, gender reassignment surgery, or whatever she and her enthusiastic comrades may require of society. Recent reports have stated, “The President of the Association of Jesuit Colleges…appreciate….the compromises of the Obama administration”, as if Team Obama is backing down. Try doubling down. Those compromises, involving health insurance payments courtesy the Affordable Care Act, or Obama-Care, are cosmetic in nature, and focus not on principled adult-level self-control, but rather political exploitation and bureaucratic expediency. What, pray tell, does the Jesuit College President appreciate?
The Georgetown Jesuit’s dance with Obama is a fraud. Ask any Kennedy, Joe Biden, or Nancy Pelosi if their standing in the Catholic Church is in any jeopardy for their glaring and willful disobedience to Church teachings. In another age, ex-communication and shunning, or worse, would have been the order of the day for propagating infanticide. Today, support for abortion and other behaviors and lifestyles are, in fact, career enhancements. Surprisingly few Catholics or Protestants, and even fewer in the Democratic Party are really serious about restraining and removing the top down moral corruption that permeates society. Having tacitly accepted Liberalism’s dumbing down of deviance, the American Church has become snuggling bedfellows ensconced in a cradle of corruption. Both institutions are hemorrhaging members and what little remains of their credibility.
One can only hope that after Maximum Ruler’s manipulation of the issue and the impressionable Ms. Fluke, her 15 minutes on stage will quickly consign her nameless face to post-notoriety oblivion.
Barring her recently floated potential candidacy for political office, she will do no better with her handlers, professors, or confessors. It is unlikely that any tenure-seeking, chin-pulling liberal academic, certainly not a prelate of the church, is likely to risk their professional future by playing the supporting role of human shield for Ms. Fluke’s passionate proclivities. After all is said and done, her tour de force is at most a niche production of the “vagina monologues,” with a contemporized Shakespearean bump for respectability as in, “get thee to a sluttery.”
Seriously though, the Christian Church, as well as the Catholic hierarchy should be thoroughly embarrassed for that in which Ms. Fluke is, in fact, correct. To their shame, most people, in particular Roman Catholics, approve of clinical interventions as a primary remedy for failures of moral behavior, rather than a true repentance of heart which leads to a change in thinking and conduct. That is basic biblical teaching. But, the Bishops have failed in their teaching on the great moral issues of the day because their loyalties have been divided; you know, part one of the “twofer” cited above. The piously robed and mitered men of the church also should be chagrined because their shtick is wearing thin and the laity knows it. Check out the shrinking attendance in the pews.
In the early 1990’s, my wife and I drove to Fargo, North Dakota, where we joined a silent march and demonstration against the Fargo Women’s Clinic, a facility prominent for its abortion practices in North Dakota. The organizers and speakers of the rally were all lay persons. As the marchers formed up, I found the clergy conspicuous in their lagging at the rear of the formation. The priests, nuns, and brothers needed repeated prompting by the rally’s leaders to take up positions more to the front of the marchers. When we finally arrived at the clinic, and the palpable wickedness of the place stared down at us from the clinic’s porch through the sarcastic and mocking faces of the clinic workers, there were no clergy to be seen at the front of our assembly. It is virtually the same today, with religious leaders from nearly all Christian denominations pounding their pulpits in righteous indignation from the rear of the assembly.
If the pursuit of knowledge at Georgetown University does not center on the acquisition of truth, Ms. Fluke’s education is at best a rank rip-off, or a massive deception at worst.
Therefore, I must assign a failing grade to the student, her professors, and the University at large for their failure to demonstrate through Ms. Fluke a rudimentary understanding of Basics: 101, you know, personal responsibility and good sense.
It is to the Jesuits and their deceptions, the American Church and it’s failure to shepherd their flocks by all that dancin’ with Obama, that God will reserve His final grades.
One day, Sammy had a birthday party. And, on this special day a little boy came to visit. They played together all day long. They wore silly hats, laughed at the balloons, played with toy cars, and ate lots of birthday cake and ice cream. Sammy was tired when the party was over, so Mommy laid him down for a nap. And, while Sammy slept, God looked down from Heaven and watched the little boy’s dream.
In his dream, Sammy was happy to have a friend play with him. That’s because little boys who are handicapped don’t have many friends. But, this friend was special, and they were having a real fun time in his dream, just like they did at the real party. Sammy was having so much fun in his dream that, when it was over and he woke up, he began to cry.
Mommy heard her little boy crying and came to see what was wrong. “What’s wrong, Sammy,” Mommy asked? There were little tears on Sammy’s cheeks. Mommy picked her little boy up and carried him to the big rocking chair in the living room. And, while Mommy slowly rocked, back and forth, back and forth, she wiped away the tears from Sammy’s cheeks. This made Sammy feel much better and he stopped crying. When Mommy asked again, “What’s wrong, Sammy?” the little boy looked up and said, “Where’s Sogo?”
Mommy was confused. She didn’t know what Sammy meant. “Who is Sogo?” Mommy asked. “Sogo,” Sammy said again. “Sogo is my friend.” He was the little boy Sammy had been playing with at the party and in his dream. When Mommy understood this, she wrapped her arms around her boy and held him closer. She looked at Daddy and they both smiled. But, it was a sad smile. Mommy kept rocking, back and forth, back and forth, and as she rocked, little tears began to form in her eyes, too.
All this time, God was watching from heaven. God didn’t like the little tears on Sammy’s cheeks and He didn’t like the tears in Mommy’s eyes either. No, God doesn’t like tears at all. So, late that night, while Mommy was sleeping God put an idea in her heart. After she woke the next morning, Mommy put her arms around Daddy and whispered in his ear. She said she wanted to make a friend for Sammy. And, so they did.
Later that year, when summer was over, Mommy and Daddy went to the hospital to have their baby. Daddy was worried, though. He wondered if their new baby would be handicapped like Sammy was. Mommy was thinking about the new baby, too. But, they had been praying and trusting God all along, “Please, Jesus, make the baby strong.” Dr. Olson said he would be very careful to make sure the baby was safe. So, he asked some special doctors to come to the room when Mommy was ready to have her baby.
Mommy worked very hard for a long time, and when she was done, Dr. Olson’s friends did a real good job, too. Then, they put a little blue cap on the baby and laid in Mommy’s arms a brand new little baby boy with a very round head. Dr. Olson smiled, and asked what the baby’s name would be. Mommy smiled and said, “We will call him Max.” This made Daddy smile. Then, Daddy called everybody he knew to tell them the happy news about Sammy and Maggie’s new baby brother, Max.
Do you remember when I said, “God doesn’t like tears, not little ones, not ones in Mommy’s eyes, no, not any tears?” Well, it’s true. It really is. But, sometimes, and for very special reasons, God lets tears happen to people. And, that’s what happened to the family that God was watching. They were all very happy when little Max was born. But, then something else came along and their happiness went away. The tears came back to Mommy’s cheeks and Daddy’s eyes, too. Even Maggie and Sammy cried when they all heard the news about little Max.
You see, Max had to go see Dr. Olson. And, Dr. Olson couldn’t smile that day because he had to tell Mommy and Daddy that little Max was handicapped, just like his big brother, Sammy. I’m not sure, but I think Dr Olson cried, too.
Mommy and Daddy took little Max home. When they got there, Daddy said they should pray. And, so they did. Maggie sat real close to Mommy, who held little Max, and Sammy sat on the other side of Mommy. Mommy tried to rock back and forth on the couch, but she couldn’t because the tears were coming. So Daddy sat on a chair and pulled it close to his family.
At first he tried to pray, but he couldn’t. He had to wait until God told him to start. You see, God wanted him to see all the tears in his family’s eyes. And, He wanted Daddy to know that these were all very special tears to God. And, that’s what Daddy said when he started to pray. He told Mommy that he was sorry this had happened to little Max. He said that God could see into her heart, and Maggie’s, and Sammy’s, and his own heart. He said that God could see their tears and feel their sadness, because God was sad one time. And, God even cried, too. But, he doesn’t cry anymore, and He isn’t sad anymore, ever again.
So, Daddy told his family that God had promised someday there would be no more tears for Max, and someday, all the sadness in Mommy’s heart would go away, forever. In the meantime, Daddy said he loved his family and that they would always love little Max, too. And, so they did.
It was very quiet for the longest time after the family finished praying. God looked down from heaven and wished he could wipe their tears for the last time. But, He couldn’t. There was one more time to come.
Several months ago a stranger came to my home. While I had never met him I knew immediately who he was. He asked me if I knew the “name of God.” As a friendly fellow, and a man interested in the things of God, I replied that I did, and that I would, indeed, be interested in talking with him. I also shared that I was hard pressed for time and would get back to him when time allowed for discussing the things of God. Most people are unaware of just how important the things of God really are. They may think they know enough, or the important stuff about God, like how to keep from going to hell. But, people’s lifestyles, their daily focus, and they way they treat others are measures I use to determine where people really are coming from, what they really believe, and whether they can be trusted. So, I wondered if the strange man could be trusted. Did he really want to talk with me about the things of God? And, if so, why? As person who was raised in the Roman Catholic Church, I know that biblical understanding is critical to gaining eternal life and living a life pleasing to God. The work of God in my life has led me down a narrow path at theological odds with many. When I read the bible and asked God to show me the truth, I learned the Roman Catholic Church was nothing more than Babylonian mysticism. And, so I walked away from the belief system of Rome. My wife came under the same conviction. We have lost virtually all of our family relationships because of our commitment to the things of God. Hers was a big family. It was a big loss that cut deeply in areas of a person’s heart with a pain that few people even know exists. It is a hurt she will carry throughout her life on this earth. The strange man returned again to my front door. I had not invited him. He just came back and stood at my door, wanting to talk about the things of God. I repeated that I was very busy and that I would get back to him when I had time to talk with him. I even called him on the phone to ask him to please let me find time to devote to speaking with him about the things of God before he returned to my home. He did not. Instead, he brought friends along with him a couple of weeks later. They waited in his car while he asked to speak to me about the things of God. It was 10 AM and I was feeding my son, my wife was working, and I was very busy. The strange man’s demands could not be met, and I asked him to let me get back to him. I wanted to share some things about my life with him; in the hopes he would come to understand something important about our discussion about the things of God. In the late 1960’s I became interested in world religions, primarily Eastern mysticisms. In the 1970’s, I leaned into the sub-Christian cults such as the World Wide Church of God, The Way International, and Mormonism to mention a few. I got into “auditing” myself with Scientology, immersed myself in liberalism and the associated political lifestyle, and latched on big-time to the gratifications of the music world. I became a Jesus freak but failed to make his acquaintance. It was at the same time that I became interested in the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. I studied it’s teachings, read it’s publications, and even participated in much of its community life, attending bible studies, Kingdom Hall activities, and even the 1975 Regional Conference at what was then the St. Paul Civic Center. 15,000 people attended the conference. I recall being greatly impressed that Jehovah’s Witnesses looked and acted differently from the hedonistic society surrounding them. More to the point, they seemed to have a peace and assurance that I lacked. But, that peace was empty and their assurance is false. One only need look deeply into one’s own heart to know if this is true. Those 15,000 souls could never be assured of forgiveness from their sins or be given the genuine hope of eternal life with God, because those 15,000 people all mocked God to His very face. In the same way as Roman Catholics they deny the power of God given them in their Savior.
The teachings of their Watchtower Elders have always been and will remain contradictory to the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. The evidence of same is irrefutable to anyone possessing a humble, honest, and thinking mind, even a stranger at my door and his friends waiting in a car. But, I doubted my strange friend would, in fact, listen to the words of God because he would not listen to me. And, I asked so little. God would ask my strange friend for everything. The stranger came to my door again, still wanting to talk about the things of God. Sounding like a broken record, I again, for the 5th time, asked him to please stop coming to my house and wait until I could find time to visit with him privately to speak about the things of God. I wanted to hear how he explained his Watchtower’s numerous false prophecies predicting the end of the world and his Elders refusing to take responsibility for the same. I wanted to know why my stranger friend so enthusiastically follows the teachings of a counterfeit bible. Isn’t he interested in the fact that the authoritative source of his belief system, The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT) is not an actual translation of the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts, but a completely fabricated counterfeit? The NWT‘s primary purpose is to change the nature of Christ in the awareness of the reader. I wanted to know if my friend ever wondered why none of the translators of the NWT are identified. Who gave Russell, Rutherford, et al permission to change the word of God and strip Jesus naked of his glory and deity? Why does his Watchtower openly defy the numerous and explicit warnings of God not to “add or take away from” what He has committed to the ages through true prophets? These are nothing less than anti-Christ. If my friend would have given me the time I asked for, I would have told him about the great work God has done in cleansing me of my pride and self-centeredness. I could cite a litany of sins from the catalogue of classical concupiscence. But, my friend would have none of that. Instead, he again came to my house, unannounced and uninvited. My spirit was growing weary of his indifference to me and my family. He began to seem a selfish man. In the years subsequent to the 1970’s and my studies and experiences living my life in various philosophies and religious systems, God pressed me down to take the academic and intellectual understanding of His truth and apply it in concrete ways to my life. But, it was only after my marriage and starting a family that I realized the gravity of importance concerning how my family should then live. If I, as a father and husband, didn’t know the truth in obedience, what good would I be to my children and my wife? I could know all about the lies of the devil in the false teachings of those religions I had studied and lived, but until I knew the truth of God from His word, and submitted to that truth, I would be at best an educated fool. My wife and children need more than a fool for a father. Some people like time-lines. So, I will give 1983 as a date by which my change began. Since then, and by the graces of God, I lay claim to the manifold mercies of the Most High God that I am no longer a fool, but a forgiven man by testimony of a changed life. I was born again by the One who died for my sins. I wanted to share with my friend, during what may have been our discussions concerning the things of God that he, too, could forsake his foolishness and become a man forgiven of his sins. He could come to know eternal life by faith in the finished and perfect sacrifice of God himself. I wanted to find the time to spend with him searching out the scriptures and letting the Spirit of God inform our beliefs in true biblical fellowship. But, my friend would not. He came to my home again a few days ago. This will be his last visit. I decided to write him this letter. I told him that he didn’t appear to be interested in me, or the things of God, in a biblically submissive way. If he was, he would have shown the respect and deference I had asked for. Rather, he repeatedly disrespected me by denying basic kindness by intruding upon my personal time and home life. He became a vexation.
He demonstrated the aggressive pride of the immature religious zealot. All his witnessing for Jehovah God is, in stark reality, nothing more than showing others his filthy menstrual cloths. And, that is because his works for the Kingdom of Jehovah is void of the essential mark of a true disciple. That mark is the love that proceeds from the Spirit of God Himself. I asked my friend to examine the passages of the Apostle Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthian’s, chapter 13. Then, ask God to reveal to him if he really has God’s love in his heart, if he is, in fact, a saved man. The “ministry” my friend claims for himself is of concern to me in that his zealotry is not informed of biblical truth. As such, it is critically dangerous. I know very well the teachings of the Watchtower, Russell, Rutherford, et al, and like the clerics of the Roman Catholic Church, it is not good news because it cannot help or save anyone. Their gospels are simply false, a dead hope. The only real hope for the remission of sins for every man and woman has always been, and can only be, the once for all sacrifice by God, of God, through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He will be either your savior or your judge…….. Who will it be that you see in the moment of your passing into eternity? I asked my friend to think seriously about that. I gave my friend 6 opportunities to consider the things of God with me. The door to those opportunities has now been closed. God has given to all of us, including my friend, a set time in which to repent. But, as of this writing my friend has not demonstrated true faith, which is necessary to please God.
It is my fear for my friend that should he fail to understand His predicament and continue in the error of following the Watchtower, he will never come to know the love of the one true God, by which he might be saved. Should he persist in his zealotry and continue to mislead others to their damnation, my friend will come to know the exquisitely intimate terrors of being cast into the very real abyss of eternal torment. Please tell my friend all of this. Please tell him that I have been praying for him and his family since God first inserted him into my life. We will be praying for my friend’s salvation tonight and tomorrow’s nights. Please tell him that should he come to accept Jesus Christ as his own personal savior and flee the Watchtower to lead his family to the safety of the Savior he may gain fellowship with me and my family. Then, we will be able to sit down, spend some time together, and talk seriously about the things of God. I would then look forward to answering his question as to the name of God. It is YHWH, or I AM. It means the self-existent one. It is the name given to Moses on the Holy Mountain. And, it is, among many other names, the name that Jesus Christ claimed for himself. Finally, please tell my friend that when he first came to my home his feet walked on the holy ground of a family who’s Savior and Master is, in fact, the Lord Jesus Christ. I will not allow my friend to defile my home with his strange fire and gross heresies. Unless and until my friend understands what that means and demonstrates a humble, loving and respectful spirit toward the God of the Universe, he is not welcome on my property or in my fellowship. It is my prayer that my friend hear the call of Jesus Christ in this letter and change his way of thinking, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in true humility, and be saved. Now, that would be wonderful, one of the great things of God!
One day, during a barrage of kisses, I heard my wife ask a squirming and giggling Maggie, “Do you think I kiss you too much?” Her question wore a facial look hard to describe. I felt a bit like an alien, looking into what may be part of the mysteries of the feminine domain. For me, it was a rare glimpse of a unique moment, the look of love my wife has for our daughter.
With her arms wrapped around the child they rocked slowly back and forth. The gaze of her eyes seemed to penetrate beyond Maggie’s big brown eyes, deeper into some far away place, where they found room for only each other. In that place they joined together in a dance of discovery, and drew closer still, their spirits forming a covenant of hope never to be parted. It was a place and time, moving softly within her little girl’s heart, to plant the seeds by which her love would be remembered.
Maggie’s eyes twinkle with curiosity. Her mouth is wide open as she reaches up with stubby little fingers and honk her playmates nose and poke at the lips that whisper, “I love you.” Her head of long brown wild hair rests against the breasts that nourish her. She can feel the beat of her mommy’s heart, and knows she is close to home. Rocking and singing in her mother’s embrace, Maggie is safe and warm. Her eyes grow heavy and her breathing slows. There is peace and security for now, the joy of being a baby
When Sammy was diagnosed I felt as if I had been kicked in the guts. Then, 7 years later, we were told that little Max had Cerebral Palsy too, and I hung my head. After Charlie was born on Valentine’s Day, 1998, showing all the signs of Down Syndrome, well, I just started to cry. We all cried. My wife Jeanne, and our 11 year old daughter Maggie, my mother who was baby-sitting, Pastor Tom and his wife; we all cried.
Our sadness has, in part, to do with the loss of dreams. Mommy’s boys won’t be getting high-fives and athletic achievement awards, and dad’s little guys won’t be paratroopers or jazz drummers. And, as nurses in clinical practice, we know what life can be like for the handicapped, and we have a rough idea of what their futures look like. It hurts to think of just how difficult the ordinary things will be for them.
When Sam was about 7 years old, I found him sitting on the floor next to the living room window crying. He had been watching Maggie play basketball. I walked over, knelt down next to him, and asked, “What’s wrong, Sam?” His eyes were looking at the floor. He said, “How come my legs don’t work?” Picking him up, I carried him to the couch and held my arms around him as he sat on my lap for the longest time. Both of us cried, we said nothing. We just stared off into space.
Max, at 4, is too young to know, and Charlie may never know why it is so hard to do the normal things, like walking, and talking. But, mommy and daddy do. They know very well, and they have an ache deep in their hearts that will not quietly go away……. At least, not in this world.
Jesus calls His followers out of this world, and sets before us a path to follow. You remember His teachings. We are to, “Seek first the Kingdom…….” Scrapping our flight plan and following Him has not come easily. Leaving the shelters of conventional comfort zones such as schools, churches, and even our families, have been trials often filled with great anguish and uncertainty.
We used to take advantage of government assistance through the public school system. The public schools are the conduit through which disabled children obtain critical and necessary services, including physical therapies, speech/language, occupational, nutritional, and behavioral therapies, from State contracted vendors and providers. Tax revenues were dedicated to pay for our diapers, our co-pays for wheel-chairs, leg braces, and diagnostic and surgical procedures, as well as our respite care and our child’s portion of our monthly health insurance premium.
Over the years our philosophical view has changed. We no longer believe we should petition the government to provide for our family’s needs. Our decision has narrowed our economic and social options considerably. We still go through a lot of diapers, which never seem to go on sale. And, out here in the country, finding a baby-sitter is nearly impossible.
Maggie and Sam went to public schools for a few years, and Maggie attended a Christian school for some time as well. But, early on we realized the safest and best education for our children would take place in our home, and for nearly 20 years now, we have walked that path of “raising up your children…….” It is a labor of love that I see in my wife as she devotes herself to teaching and preparing our children. Our efforts and commitment to them is also an unspoken source of some contention among others, including family members, many of whom are professional educators.
We used to be satisfied with what we saw and heard in the church. We were tuned in to the cultural gospel of “Do This, Do That,” and “Get This Get That.” Rarely did we hear, nor did we appreciate, what Jesus anticipated for His followers. Today, the ideas of brokenness, suffering, and bearing the reproach for the gospel are not held in high esteem. They are neither seeker-friendly sermon topics, or what people have been taught to expect. However, the experience of the vast majority of those in the early church was exactly that; persecution, deprivation, estrangement, and even death by no less than the prevailing ecclesiastical powers. What horrors these brothers and sisters in Christ knew as their common experience for the sake of the Gospel!
Having left the tradition of the weekly sacrifice, our trials cut to the heart with our families. We’ve tried to be Bereans, searching out the scriptures, seeking to know what is true. And, we’ve come to know some of the implications of what Jesus meant in Luke 12:51-53; “I have not come to bring peace but division…father against son…mother against daughter.” A great theological divide separates us from those we love dearly. To borrow from John Bunyan, when he describes his prison experience of being estranged from his family, it is “like the tearing of flesh from the bone.”
The Apostle Paul, in Romans 8, tells us that the “sufferings of this present age are not to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us.” All suffering, in the believer, is used by the Lord to refine his creation, conforming them to His image. Whether suffering the reproach of the gospel in living out your spiritual life in Christ, or enduring heartache for those you love, all is done to the glory of God. And, it is His glory that He promises to share with us in the age to come. It is a glory that cannot abide pain and suffering, tears or sadness, or any infirmity, including Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome. The promises of God are sure, our hope is certain.
It is the matter of God’s grace that keeps us, amazing me daily, as I consider the mercies and gifts He has lavished on my family and I. Through His sacrifice on the cross, Christ has vanquished my sins. He has set His seal on my heart, and He has been faithful. In our sadness and our children’s pain He has spoken to us words of hope. We have learned something about being broken vessels and being made strong in our weaknesses.
As we move through this world with our sights set on the things above, we “see through a glass darkly.” But, sometimes, even in the stone silent quiet of many lonely and uncertain nights, we can get a glimpse of what is to come. Charlie will no longer be afraid and he will sing clearly, “Praise the Lord.” Max will never again fall and hurt his head. Sammy will enjoy his new legs, thinking back on all those tears, now and forever wiped away. And, Maggie……. She will finally see the face of God, run to Jesus and kiss the face of her Father.
Set free from the bonds of time to live forever in the glory of His presence we will speak of His goodness and mercies. And, as we come to understand the meaning and beauty of the trials he set before us we will be forever grateful and thank Him for these matters of grace.
Passion has always tended toward obscuring or confusing the notion of truth; as in your feelings trumping what you know factually.Today, we’ve gone one step further in allowing passion or strong feelings, to define the truth.And, this is not relegated to just the primitive religions or the long corrupted social science of liberalism.The doors to the evangelical church have long been flung wide open and into its pews have come to roost those who feel and cannot think.
My wife picks out my ties, and this Sunday morning a snappy coffee and burnt sienna colored selection led my neck and head through the crowd and into the storefront church, a one-story concrete block structure that might look to passersby’s like a non-descript Wal-Mart.My boys were in tow and were excited.We’d been told the congregation was young, energetic, and friendly.The image in my mind was inviting and I was looking forward to worshipping the Lord that Sunday morning in an affluent suburb of Minneapolis.
An attractive, smiling, 30’s something, woman welcomed us as we came through the door.The buzz of people on the move followed us as we snaked out way through a maze of chattering, smiling, and excited 20-40 year-olds, and even split of singles and families. They were dressed casually, many clutching a ration of coffee in cups from the church’s cafe lounge I saw at the end of the long hall.It was summer and nobody I saw was wearing cut-offs or shorts, but I didn’t see any women wearing dresses, either.It quickly became apparent and awkward to me that I was one of the few men, if any, wearing a tie.
As we entered the sanctuary, I was reminded of my rock concert days back in the 1970’s.I had the distinct anticipation of the “show.”The layout was essentially studio/theatre design, with a large stage, flat-black draped curtains behind a massive cluster of overhead lighting.Sound booths and video production areas are standard in most churches these days.Evidently, if Jesus doesn’t heal your blindness or hearing problems, these churches will take those matters into their own hands.
Our boys, Sam and Max, have gait problems because of their disabilities.Max fell and fractured his skull almost a year ago, so whenever I am walking with him these days, I hold his hand to keep him steady.Even without that detail, it would seem evident that our boys may need a little help ambulating, simply because of the loosey, goosey way they walk.So, we tried to find some safe seats, easy to get to.But, people usually like the aisle seats, so we had a bit of a stumble past a latte sipping couple, before we could find a place and sit down.
A huge video screen began to descend overhead the stage, and the camera was trained on the drummer doing a sound check in a plexi-glass sound enclosure.As a drummer myself, I was interested in his technique before I caught myself; “Dude, you’re in church to worship God Almighty, not sticking patterns or the sounds of some guy’s drum set.”For the next hour and a half it was difficult to distract myself from a sometimes overwhelming sensory experience, and focus on what the preacher had to say. I wondered,” What’s going on?I’m here to worship and, in order to do that, I have to distract myself from what’s actually happening, which is supposed to be worship. Huh?”
Music has always been a strong and ordained help in worship and ministry.As such, its proper place is subordinate to the message.All is used to glorify God and in worshipping Him and serving others.I’ve played drum parts to solemn classical pieces in very affluent stained glass churches, and I’ve played power-soul-music in poor inner-city churches where we burned the place down with shouts of “Amen, brother!”So, I’m not “fundamentalistically” exclusive. If God owns the cattle on a thousand hills,He also owns every note on the musical scales as well as all the time signatures and rhythm patterns of the universe.
While ministers and ministry must be oriented to the spiritual and practical needs of others, and style can enjoy a certain freedom in expression,worship is always to be done in the manner prescribed by God himself. But, these days, music and the show frequently bleed over into the sacred and makes subordinate the message of the words of God. And, that was my problem with the Woodman.
He reminded me immediately of Woody Woodpecker, a cartoon character that first appeared in a movie in 1940 and on television in 1957.Described as “outlandish” and “an insane bird” his visual trademark was a great tuft of bright red hair and a staccato manic-like laugh.
He was the young staff pastor that came on stage to make the obligatory announcements from the church bulletin after the crowd had settled back into their seats.His presence on the big video screen made a part of me want to laugh, another part sad, and another part almost embarrassed.He wore an over-sized yellow bow-tie and white shirt that hung over his belt.If you go to the Caribbean, the locals don’t tuck their shirts into their pants, shorts, or whatever.It’s de style, mon.But, the Woodman wasn’t in Barbados or the Virgin Islands, even though it was summer in Minnesota.I am a forgiving man and could have overlooked his fashion faux pax.But, the young man pastor’s hair is what finally did me in, and I went off whatever reservation I had at the church’s table of teachable moments. His hair was red and jelled, combed straight up all around his head.And, it just stayed that way.
At that point I thought of raising my hand and saying, “Check, please,” when I recalled that I was with my boys in church to worship God Almighty.It seemed we were surrounded by people who had come to be entertained, jump up and down, pump their fists, point their fingers, and shout their apparent approval of doctrinal assertions presented in musical verse, preferably up-tempo and with a strong back-beat.It was a powerful setting, like a carnival or the maniacal mood for Diana at Ephesus.I wondered if I would hear, “Great is the Woodman of Our Church!”
I couldn’t get some thoughts out of my head; the latte sipping couple skin grafted to their seats on the aisle (bless their beefy buttocks), the near frenzied, undulating waves of 20-30 something’s in the rows in front of us with their hands raised high and pointing to the singers, the sound and lights mix, the cameramen, the sound booth, and then the Woodman, with his stick-up hair and yellow bow-tie.And, this was all before the senior pastor came up on stage to preach the word.Whatever “word” he had from the Lord, I can’t recall.Neither can my boys.But, they liked the music and want to go back. Of course.
Later that night, I thought about our visit to that church and recalled the only men I saw dressed with ties was the Woodman and myself.My wife said she thought she heard the family joiner in me saying, “Maybe that’s a conversational starting point… you know, the ties, something in common.”The joiner dude lost, though.The State Fair was coming to town so, if you want to see a freak show, go to the Fair. But, if church, then go easy on the hair-gel and please, wear a tie.