Racism is such an unfortunate term, as it implies “blacks” and “whites” are different races. We are all part of one race—the human race.

Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. ~ Revelation 5:9

Hope for Troubled Hearts in Troubled Times

The days in which we are living in are so uncertain. Some talk about a great economic collapse that will be felt around the world. In the midst of discussions and rallies crying out for peace there is so much anger, unrest, and violence. The news consistently reports acts of terrorism around the world. As the world grows smaller because of technology, ironically, people are feeling more isolated. And with Covid restrictions, there has been an alarming rise in depression and suicide.

Many questions are floating around. Will America experience another civil war? Is our economy going to collapse? What’s going to happen to churches and Christians? Will things ever return to normal? What is God doing? Is He even there?

When Jesus was speaking to His disciples, He is also speaking to us:

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. ~ John 14:1

 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. ~ John 16:33

We live in a fallen world, and Jesus teaches that as His return draws closer there is going to be a rise in lawlessness, lovelessness, and chaos. Just hearing this and observing the world around us can cause an increase in one’s heart rate and anxiety. Nevertheless, in Christ we can experience genuine peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. ~ John 14:27

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ~ Philippians 4:6-8

While requiring self-discipline and effort, the key to acquiring His peace which He abundantly offers, we must fix our eyes on Jesus and not on the troubles around us. We must pray and bring our anxieties to Him, along with thanksgiving. We are granted so many blessings, but how often we take them for granted!  And finally, we are to shift our thoughts on what is true, lovely, pure, etc. How easily we can fill our minds with “stinking thinking.”

God’s people are not forsaken by Him—never! 

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5

Today, may your attention be set upon Christ, His sacrifice, and the living hope that only He can give. And may He grant you His peace that passes all understanding, and the richness of His presence.

Blessings upon you, my friends!

Our Desperate Need for Wisdom

We, as a people, are in desperate need for wisdom. Our nation is so divided and wounded, yet we continue to behave like a bunch of monkeys flinging poo at one another, then wonder why we are in such a filthy, stinking mess.

Wisdom does not just happen. That is, persons are not simply born “wise.” Furthermore, wisdom is more than simply being smart or correct. There is an abundance of intellectual, sophisticated fools. Washington, Hollywood, and universities give ample evidence of this. Authentic wisdom is substantial and produces certain results.

Consider, and take the following words of James to heart, and think through the applications and consider what is going on in the world around us.

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. ~ James 3:13-18

At first read it would appear as if James is talking about two kinds of wisdom, but he is not. He is describing what true wisdom is versus what is falsely so called. Notice, authentic wisdom is substantial in character. The truly wise are good in conduct and meek in spirit. Whereas the false wisdom of the age is bitter, jealous, and filled with selfish ambition.

Now, consider the effects, or results, of these. False wisdom is also false to the truth, and is earthly, unspiritual—even demonic. No wonder it produces disorder and every vile practice. Authentic wisdom, on the other hand, is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, merciful, impartial (just), and sincere. True wisdom produces righteousness and peace.

What are we witnessing today? Do we see civility and reasonable discourse? Certainly not! We see constant mudslinging and strife by persons and groups hellbent on getting their own way, disregarding what is beneficial to the whole. Truth is trampled on and mocked, although we talk about love, peace, and unity. Yet, even genuine love is:

Is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

Did you catch that? Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Our society constantly applauds lying politicians and news outlets that withhold or distort the truth—so long as they promote our ideas and agendas. No matter whose reputations or lives are ripped asunder. And we wonder why our nation is in the wretched state she is in?

Going back to wisdom, before James talked about wisdom and the falsely so called, earlier he writes,

Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. ~ James 1:19-20

Then, later James writes,

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! ~ James 1:1-4

Does this not sound like a description of our country and our world? We are in desperate need of wisdom. But how can we begin to attain it? Before discrediting what I am about to share, consider this: are our methods helping matters? Do our methods not injure a lot of people—even the innocent—and further promote more injustices? Many of us are “wise in our own eyes,” but we are not wise, my friends. This is clearly made evident by the results of our actions. So then, how are we to attain wisdom?

Let the wise hear and increase in learning. ~ Proverbs 1:5

First, we must step back and be willing to listen and to learn.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. ~ Proverbs 1:7

It is astonishing to me how our society mocks the Christian faith relentlessly, then wonders how our government, schools, and communities are in the conditions they are in. If one mocks or denies love, faithfulness, truth, peacefulness, life, and the like, then he opens himself to hatred, betrayal, deception, strife, death, and the like. This is not rocket science, but it is amazing how such simplicity is overlooked.

My friends, I am showing the way of hope. The principles I am sharing not only work, but are secured on the solid foundation of truth. God offers us His wisdom and Himself; yet, if we continue to resist and reject Him, then we must also suffer the consequences of the law of cause and effect.

“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. ~ Proverbs 1:22-23

Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” ~ Proverbs 1:29-33

Our scoffing at God and hating the knowledge of Him has not benefited us at all. So why do we hold so tightly to these?

Why Study the Word? (Part 2)

Is it not strange that two persons can view the same thing, yet their perception can be polar opposite? Consider the Bible, some see it simply as a book of rules: “Do this! Don’t do that!” Such persons perceive the Bible as being restrictive and fun-demolishing.

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” ~ Psalm 2:2-3 (ESV)

Jesus, on the other hand, declares God’s Word to be the truth, what bears witness about Him, and what sets persons free (see John 17:17; 5:39; 8:31-32).

The prophet Isaiah asserts,

Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples…. And when [the people] say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. ~ Isaiah 8:16, 19-20

Interestingly, while so many do not view the Bible as being of much value (admittedly, even many who profess to be Christians do not devote much time to it), the writer of Psalm 119 devotes the whole writing (176 verses) to celebrating God’s Word, Law, ways, commands, and statutes. In these he finds delight (see vs. 14, 47, 92, 143). According to the psalmist, God’ Word is of immense value (see vs. 37, 72, 127).

Here are sevreal benefits he mentions in his own experience:

This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. ~ vs. 50

I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. ~ vs. 75-76

If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. ~ vs. 92-93

Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. ~ vs. 98

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. ~ vs. 105

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. ~ vs. 130

Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. ~ vs. 165

So much of the regrets and miseries people suffer is because of abandoning the truth and protection of God’s Word (I speak out of my own personal experience). People would be spared a lot of pain and shame if they would stop viewing the Scriptures as a killjoy, and rather perceive them to be the loving instructions of a caring Father and Creator.

Unfocused, Unbridled Anger Will Fix Nothing

I have a few honest questions concerning our society. I’m not trying to be controversial or flippant. First, why all the unfocused, unbridled anger? The general answer seems to be “injustice!” Ok, this is a good starting place, but the answer goes awry when it shoots in all different directions. For example, a “black” man dies because of a “white” cop. THIS is the injustice. But what has followed are directions that are off focus and untrue:

  • All cops are bad
  • All “whites” are “racist
  • All “blacks” are oppressed
  • All cops are “systematically racist “
  • No body cares
  • This is Trump’s fault
  • Capitalism needs to be replaced by Marxism

Each of these are off focus and untrue. Everyone I know was upset with what happened to George Floyd. But somehow, things have spiraled somewhere unknown. We must remain focused if we are to fix anything.

Second question, will screaming obscenities and being destructive help fix injustice? So many pictures and videos I’ve seen shows persons with signs or shouting out things like: “F— cops!” “F— Trump!” F— you!” “Get the f— out of here!” Etc. I have yet seen such a word reconcilable. The same thing with destroying property. People are destroying things just to be destructive. But honestly, will this fix the problem? No, because none of this has anything to do with the original injustice. Furthermore, NO ONE responds well to being told, “f— you!” This kind of behavior is counterproductive. All this does is heighten the walls and thicken the barriers. This fixes nothing but is only further destructive.

Although I have more, my last question for the time being is this: do “black” lives matter or only the ones that fit a certain narrative? Something I have observed for several years is often if a “black” man is successful, he is labeled an “Uncle Tom.” The same for those who support Trump. Mind you, my posts are not meant to be political, but my point is this: on the one hand, “whites” are condemned unfairly as being “racist.” Yet, on the other hand, “blacks” are ostracized if they go against some unwritten script to think for themselves.

None of this is supportive of justice. It is not true that every “white” is racist anymore than saying the “black” community is free of racism. Furthermore, it is not supportive of justice to criticize “black” men as “Uncle Toms” when they are successful and/or think for themselves. All these accusations stem from the racism within the accusers’ hearts.

Truly, I believe things can get better, but first we have to keep focused on the actual offenses and avoid the untrue generalizations. If we refuse, we will all suffer the consequences of infernos of our own unbridled rage.

The Lost Priceless Art of Common Courtesy

Many of the narrators (i.e., the talking heads) say the problem in America is “racism,” but I dare say the problem is deeper than this. You see, in my fair amount of years of living, I have known very few people who were racist in the true sense of the word, regardless of their ethnicity. Oh sure, there are cliques and biases, but every color and sector has these. For example, when I was a teen there was a fellow a few years older than me who lived in the same apartment complex. He had a shirt that read, “If You Ain’t Chicano, You Ain’t Caca!” Today, such a shirt would be  considered “racist,” yet this person was not racist. His friends included blacks, whites, and Asians.

The deeper problem today, I believe, is the decline in respect and common courtesy all around. I have seen such a rise in disrespect toward others from elementary schools to professional political platforms.

I have witnessed people treating employees at fast food restaurants and department stores as though these individuals are beneath them, as they yelled and belittled them. I’ve seen videos of cops being screamed and cussed at because they pulled persons over for speeding. I’ve observed young men treating others with contempt yet demanding respect. I’ve experienced reaching my hand out only to have persons look down at my hand then back at me, keeping their arms crossed.

In media, whole groups of people are generalized and demonized—especially if persons or groups do not share the same opinions and agendas.

Kids can cuss and threaten teachers or bully students; yet, many parents will side with their children—regardless of the rebellious behavior. Some parents yell awful, demeaning things at kids’ sporting events. Many belittle police officers, referring to them as the “pigs.” We live in a day where the position of president is not even respected. I read of a children’s book recently portraying President Trump as a pig. There has been a growth in numbers who show utmost disrespect for the flag, those in the military, and those who have sacrificed much. Let us not forget the disrespect shown to our elders. I recently came across a video of and elderly man of color being punched by a group of young men of color for wearing a US winter hat.

We’ve become a society having a sense of entitlement, as if somehow others owe us something. But why would anyone owe us anything while we “do not owe anyone a single thing”?

The disrespect and lack of courtesy transcends color, ethnicity, gender, economic class, etc., and these have poisoned our society like nothing else can. How can our country deal with racism if it disregards the necessity of respect. Mind you, showing respect does not mean to agree with someone or to like them. Rather, it is to show honor for a person’s position and/or personhood. Yet, how often I will hear people say, “I’m not going to respect him/her, they don’t deserve respect. Respect is to be earned!” What a bunch of baloney! We’re to demand respect while dishing out disrespect?! It does not work this way, and this is precisely a major reason our society is in the mess it is in.

The Bible tells us:

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. ~ Matthew 7:12

Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. ~ 1 Peter 2:17

How can we cry out for love and justice if we cannot even show respect and common courtesy to one another? This is like crying out for light and warmth, yet pouring water over any flickering flames.

Somewhere on a shelf in the dark basement of the human heart is the lost, but ever so valuable, art of common courtesy. Until we can find this and finally display it again, the cries against racism, injustice, etc. are but also a lost cause.

Peace in the Coming Night

Uncertainty is a mark of the time we are living in: What is going on? Who can we trust? Where are we headed? When is the storm going to hit? Why is this happening? Our world is giving ample reasons to fret and fear. I want to encourage you to  place your faith in Jesus Christ.

Oh, I know the “experts” say to jettison the faith. Many university professors, celebrities, and politicians scorn such faith. This is fine, but I ask you to ponder this: The more the world pushes out Jesus, do things get better or worse? Does the world become more peaceful or more turbulent?

I know it is common for some (e.g. Mikhail Gorbachev) to blame wars on religion, but this is not true. Most have to do with a lust for power. Have you ever considered dictators are never religious individuals? Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, etc. were neither religious nor virtuous. And this New World Order we occasionally hear about, this will be an atheistic, secular humanistic totalitarian government. This might be closer than we realize.

The Bible has warned us for many years there would come a time of great difficulty (see 1 Tim. 3:1-7); a time when many would reject the Christian faith (see 2 Thes. 2:1-12); a totalitarian government and cashless society (see Rev. 13). I do not profess to know when all this will fully fall into place, but the process has begun. Even now, there are many within the U.N. pushing for a one-world government and an ecumenical one-world religion. The present Pope Francis does not hide his ambitions concerning these.

All of this gives us multiple reasons to be afraid, but Jesus invites is to find refuge and peace in Him.

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me… I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ~ John 14:1, 6 (ESV)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. ~ John 16:33

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6-7

The world continues to promote the myth and superstition of a secular humanistic “utopia.” This tale is but a smokescreen for a lust for power of the elite. Nothing less. And like deadly spiders, they will spin whatever lie to catch and devour.

Jesus is up front with us and tells us there will be difficulty; however, in Him we can have peace, and He will get us through the difficulties.

May these words encourage your heart, and help you fix your eyes on Jesus with a renewed confidence.

Ingratitude and the Accompanying Unhappiness

Entitlement (the sense of) and ingratitude are so prevalent today. Connected to these is discontentment—never satisfied with what one has, the continuous of always wanting more. Such selfish thinking and attitudes come with a costly price, however. 

First, these erode one’s happiness. How can a person be happy if he is always upset about what he does not have, but not truly appreciative of what he does have? How can he be happy if he is always cuddling a grudge because someone has what he wants but does not, or cannot, have?

Second, peace is eroded. Like a person with OCD, one cannot enjoy the beauty of a painting because there are scratches on the frame. One cannot enjoy a delicious meal because a family member’s hair is found on his plate. 

Third, one’s perception of others—and even life itself—is distorted. Seeing the specks in others’ eyes, a person fails to see the big oak tree in their own eye. Those who “have” are viewed as selfish and bad, all the while an individual is oblivious to their own selfishness and the toxicity of their covetousness.

I have had the opportunity to go to Uganda, Africa twice for mission trips. On my first trip our team visited a refugee camp. It was heartbreaking as we saw all these people who were malnourished. Many of them, like the young boy we met, had family who were killed by “rebel soldiers” from Sudan. This boy witnessed some horrible things, traveled by himself day and night, and was now in a “safe” place, but did not have a home, food, education, video games, phone, etc. Nevertheless, he did not have an angry or bitter spirit.

On both trips we met people who did not have much. In fact, we met some who only had beans and rice to eat—and that was on a good day! Many did not have the luxury of having a house (many still live in huts), variety of nice clothes, or glasses to see better. There is not a Target or Walmart where they can buy food and supplies, nor do they have a sterile hospital to go in case of an emergency. Yes, these people would like to have some of these; nevertheless, they are a delightful and hospitable people. 

It is strange to see the unhappiness and anger in so many people in America who have so much. One might have a roof over their head in a safe neighborhood, but it is not one of the “nice” ones on the other side of town. One has a good variety of food to eat each day, but it is not Red Lobster. One has nice clothes from a department store, but they are not designer brands. And on and on it goes. Instead of gratitude there is griping. Instead of appreciation, there is anger. Instead of being content there is contempt. Thus, those who have are viewed as “bad” because they have, regardless of the work or sacrifices they made to get to where they are and what they have.

Gratitude is a choice, and it will play a huge part in one’s happiness and peace. No, it will not cure every ill or fulfill every need; however, it will help one’s perception, and it will help establish a foundation for contentment and hope. Is life fair? No. But it is not as bad as many make it out to be. For sure, there are people who have far more than many of us; yet, many of us still have far more than others. 

Jesus asks, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” ~ Matthew 16:26 (ESV)

Paul writes to Timothy, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:7-9

Elsewhere we are told, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” ~ Hebrews 13:5

If one’s focus is on everything that he does not have or what is bad, he will miss out on what he has and what is good. If one feels entitled to things, he is going to be upset when others tell him they do not owe him anything. 

What about you? No, life will not always go your way, and you will experience bumps and bruises along the journey. But do you have friends and family who love you? Do you have clean water and food to eat? Do you have a home where you are safe and warm? Can you read and write? Are you in good health and in your right mind? If you can say yes to these, you have more than you realize, and still much more than many. Be grateful. Be content. Do not allow ingratitude and discontentment to suck the joy, peace, and happiness from your life.