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We recently had a group from The Satanic Temple of Los Angeles come up to Lancaster to perform a GPS pentagram and give their “Seven Tenets” to the city…this cause quite a stir and slew of responses. There was a prayer rally, protest and even some sky writing (not all from the same groups).
Everything Christians do should look and sound like Jesus
Jesus didn’t picket people, in fact he almost never engaged in non-personal forms of interaction and when he did it was kind, gracious and uplifting. I can’t see Jesus picketing anything, boycotting companies or lambasting someone from social media. Seeing these kinds of responses should give all Christians pause to consider…are you following a “Christian culture” or Christ?
The First Amendment is for everyone
If we want to campaign for reform, let’s campaign. If we want to stop shopping at a particular store, stop shopping there. If you don’t want Satanists (or any other group) in your down, convert them. One of the best things about our Constitution is the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom…if we start taking that away from one group, it will disappear for everyone. (plus, last time I checked…it is impossible to convert people through laws). Aren’t we glad to live in a country where we are free to worship without (too much) government interference?
Satanist aren’t the worst
Let’s be objective…if we take the incendiary word “Satan” away this is a small group of people that are basically atheistic humanists. There are way bigger evils in the Antelope Valley than the Satanists. Satan sounds scary, but the monsters of Greed, Bigotry, and Isolation (to name a few) are wreaking havoc on our community and have many more converts and any religious group (including Christians). I am willing to say there are more churches in the AV doing damage to the Kingdom of God than Satanists or cult followers. Are you rejoicing (if you are a Christian) in the VICTORY in Jesus?
Spiritual warfare is real
I am not saying we should be excited about a group claiming to follow Satan being in the neighborhood, or that their presence isn’t something to take seriously. The event raised everyone’s spiritual “Spidey sense” – suddenly there is evil in our community! The reality is we should pray for our neighbors and neighborhoods regularly. Just look at the evil and oppression that took place in Orlando (and almost West Hollywood) this weekend. How many people protested and prayed when the Hindu temple opened in town? Are we living as a “house of prayer” all the time, with heightened alertness to the Spiritual forces behind our present “realities”?
Many Christians have little faith in the Church or the power of the Holy Spirit
I find that very often people who are quick to want change in government policies and city ordinances to make the world more “Christian” fail to embody them. In other words, we want to direct change in others but fail to produce it ourselves. This can happen for so many reasons, but at the heart of it is a lack of faith. Faith that Jesus is good, his spirit is transformative, that the Church is the best hope for the world and that “the gates of Hades won’t prevail against it“. Do you really believe these words of Jesus?
So…thank God for Satanists, they come and remind Christians why we follow Jesus and how we are to go about it.
The recent hubabulu with North Korea hacking Sony Pictures, releasing copies of current films, damaging emails, publishing financial document and threatening US theaters that premier the film has created a tense situation in the entertainment world in the last few weeks. The Interview, in which Seth Rogen and James Franco infiltrate and kill the Supreme Ruler of the most closed society on earth seems almost like a work of fan fiction for the Bush doctrine…and that is probably how N. Korea should take it…a real life version of Team America viewed by folks like Rogen.
Now the last time I checked, post college (or college dropout) stoners lacked in militant organization and violent insurrection…semper fi is not the first thing they say when they are ordering pizza at 1am. The threat The Interview posses towards N. Korea’s national security is about as powerful as a SNL skit. But when you live in isolation and fear, molehills quickly become mountains.
In a recent conversation with some parents of adolescent and grown children we broached the subject of honesty with your kids. One parent’s approach to honesty with their kids was continual support, encouragement and positive reinforcement with little to no reality…i.e. “you are good at everything and everyone loves you”. The other parent was equally supportive and encouraging but tried to balance that with a healthier dose of honesty. They would tell their kids when they were being obnoxious or level with them about their strengths and weaknesses. The result was that the first group of children group up feeling very loved and very sensitive to any criticism…making it harder for them to fold into society where you will have performance reviews, fights and failures. The second group felt equal loved, but a little more equipped to deal with real life by having a bit tougher skin. Interestingly fear was a major component to this first group who tried to shelter their children…they tend not to handle things too well.
What does all that have to do with N. Korea? The dictatorship of Kim Jong Un is a macro specimen of what happens to us individually when we live in isolation and fear. Hacking the picture studios and threatening to attack U.S. theaters seems like…an overreaction, but they’ve gone a step further this week. Apparently the Korean government has issued threats against the White House, Pentagon and the U.S. mainland. This is equivalent to the rich kid who’s parents bought friendships and popularity trying out for a sports team in college, being told he isn’t good enough and then threatening to get the coach fired…oh wait and then burn down the school and poison the local drinking water.
When we isolate and shut of from criticism we become devastatingly unaware of our real strengths and weaknesses. When we win popularity through coercion or bribery insecurity lives in the recesses of our personality…making us more irrational and desperate. When we make fear the determining factor for our decision process paranoia and control take over. So parents take a note…a healthy dose of reality for your children could keep them from becoming the next totalitarian dictator…unless that is what you’re going for.
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When we know the end of the story fear, anxiety, compromise and indecision leave us; we know the final outcome of God’s great saga…we are called to live in the light of Christ’s victory.
I’ve been trying to do something that is incredibly uncomfortable for me lately…being ok with not being ok. I typically power through hard times, I like to play the hero. In the moment this can look great…but I become pressurized from never processing pain and eventually it comes out in irrational rage at small things and the occasional bout of ugly-crying.
Sunday night after driving home from an exceptionally great worship gathering at Kairos but an exceptionally hard week/weekend I did something different. Instead of jumping straight into a podcast or audiobook (my typical driving routine)…I decided to grieve the week’s hardships and my lack of control…I did this through the add of my old friend “Sunny Day Realestate”(I posted a spotify link below…they are quite good). The result: a much less stressed out day on Monday. So embrace the loss and face the grieving…It is the only hope you have of thriving in the future.
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Our hope lies not within the past but in the possibilities of the future. God is all about dramatic acts of redemption and courage that alter the course of human history
“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” ― Rick Warren
“People are all over the world telling their one dramatic story and how their life has turned into getting over this one event. Now their lives are more about the past than their future.” ― Chuck Palahniuk
Last week I got to see interstellar… I still haven’t made up my mind about what I think… But I definitely think something.
Besides weirding me out and giving me that “don’t think about the space time continuum/ flux capacitor/cluster flub” – the film stirred up al kinds of thoughts about leadership.
The most frustrating thing about watching interstellar was watching someone with clairvoyance of the future be impotent to change the present. There is a burden that comes with vision… vision is the nonnegotiable of good leadership. Good leaders see where a group, company, family or movement is and where they need to go and calls for changed birthed from vision. But if you are in capable of changing the current circumstances, choices, or prejudices, vision can be the greatest burden a leader can carry.
Many of us have been in positions where we’ve seen what needs to happen but have been a minority of opinion when it comes to how to move forward. The black hole scene where McConaughey is trapped viewing the past without a way to effect the outcome haunted me for days after viewing it. In terms of cinematic power, the movie could have (and possibly should have) ended there. The poignancy of the movie seemed to rest in our inability to change the past based on what we know in the present.
While the film focused on the future it played with the terms future, past and present to the point that they were all interchangeable based on the time in which we are talking about them. The frustration we all experience at wishing we could change the past is the same lament leaders go through in moments of clarity and foresight.
So what are our options when we can see clearly into the future but realize we are powerless in the present?
1. We can escape. The maxim in poker is to know when to fold ’em. The sad reality is there are times when we need to stop trying to help people and just set up boundaries; when we need to leave the company that is fledgling; when we must stop supporting a movement or candidate because we can see where it will all end.
2. We can give in. Easily the worst of the options. This is when folks refrain from blowing whistles on corrupt companies because they will lose their paycheck; when countries become Nazi collaborators because they fear the consequences; when abusive leaders remain in power because no one wants to rick the boat.
3. We can form resistance. Just because we realize we cannot affect change where we are does not mean that we need to become apathetic and complacent. We can strike out in the revolutionary ways of rebellion: prayer, confrontation and reform.
This isn’t just at a corporate or political level…I’m thinking of someone standing up to and resisting a group of friends bent on destruction, a spouse committed to dysfunction, a church no longer following faith, an education system committed more to bureaucracy than students. At the end of the day none of these options lessen the burden of leadership, but resistance does lighten the feeling of apathy, complacency and corruption that come with serving a group, person or system that we know to be wrong.
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God doesn’t always give us what we want, but what we need. Times of “silence” are often times of preparation & training we fail to recognize
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, “ GOD has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? GOD doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knowsw everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. – Isaiah 40:27-31 MSG
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Trauma comes from unprocessed pain and life altering experiences. As we coop with trauma we can put up defenses and hide from vulnerability…this often keeps us from trusting God and trusting others. We are called to trust God and enter his presence with confidence…we are called to heal from the trauma in our lives.