A Word about the Word-
…For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. [Luke 6:45]
“That’s not who we are.” How many times have we heard that lately? In regards to the violence at the Capitol last week, we heard a chorus of voices, including former President Jimmy Carter, declaring just that: “This is not who we are as Americans.” Last week, golfer Justin Thomas, after spewing some very unsavory words when he missed a putt, later apologized and said, “It’s not who I am.”
But, in a sense, it is who we are. Jesus’ words above are spot-on. The ugly words and actions that we often produce, especially under pressure, reveal what is in our hearts. This is why we need Christ and shows what following him and spiritual transformation are all about. We are promised a new heart. And we can expect good things to come out of that new heart if we fill it with right and true things. Jesus also said, “A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart.”
What are you storing up in your heart?
Close to Home
You are so kind! Trinity’s Elders asked the church family to give a love offering for the staff at year’s end. You did! On behalf of the pastors and the staff, thank you very much. It is a privilege to serve such a kind and generous fellowship.
Here’s something to look forward to: Soon Trinity will have a brand-new website. It will be clearer and easier to navigate. And nicer looking, too. Stay tuned.
The Browns beat the Steelers. In a playoff game. I am still pinching myself. Without a head coach, missing many players, having little practice, and in Pittsburgh. Here’s what I texted to my brother: YEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHH (you can quote me on that :).
The World as It Is
Sue and I have been talking about getting a bigger television for our basement. I am thinking a 56-inch screen is too big for that room, but I hadn’t thought about it in a car! Mercedes-Benz has, however. File this under “Is This a Good Idea?”
And maybe file this under “C’mon, Really?” Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, a congressman from Missouri and an ordained minister, closed his prayer for the new session of Congress last week with, “Amen and awomen.” In case you didn’t know (and Cleaver surely had to know), “Amen” isn’t a gendered word. It is Hebrew, meaning “it is so,” or “so be it.”
One of the most disheartening things for me about the violence at the Capitol last Wednesday were signs proclaiming “Jesus Saves” and other “Christian” slogans. The simple gospel of Christ and God’s grace is already misunderstood by our unchurched society. To mix it with crazed conspiracy theories and violent nationalism is more than a shame. It is a foreign “gospel” altogether.
A Healing Prayer
A colleague of mine with whom I have traveled and served in India offers this prayer:
A Call for Wisdom in Washington
(I wrote this 8 years ago, and somehow, every year, it seems appropriate to repost it.)
To our leaders in government:
We will perish in foolishness if we do not grow in wisdom.
We elected you to office to do near-impossible tasks: to defend us in an unsafe world, to structure the basic services of an ordered society, to protect those who are vulnerable.
We ask you to govern, but with our consent. We plead with you to address major social and economic problems, but we know that our culture often works against solutions.
In short, we ask you to do those things that do not come naturally to human beings. But we need you to try.
We all must grow past the foolishness of naivety, irresponsibility, and cynicism. And we need leaders who will lead the way. We call on you to seek a higher wisdom in your leadership.
You have power, but the corruptions of pride and arrogance will ruin your integrity.
You have authority, but you need to develop moral authority to have an enduring and honorable influence.
You have responsibility to speak truth, but there are powerful forces compelling you to spin, obfuscate, and lie.
We need you to be intelligent and learned, but with wisdom. We need strong leadership that comes not from force of personality and will, but from the strength of truth.
We do not need you to dictate what we should do, we need streams of wisdom so that we will all understand what we may do and should choose to do.
Above all we need respect. We need you to respect all people in every part of the world regardless of their station in life because the dignity of human beings bestowed by God the Creator is the foundation of a civilized society. (Genesis 1:27)
The “unalienable rights” of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness need to be balanced with the responsibilities of justice, equity, and generosity.
We need you to come up with good ideas that are based on great ideals. We, the public, understand that disagreement, debate, and tension are all part of the process of governing. But we implore you to find consensus for the vexing problems of our times.
We have elected you to do near-impossible tasks. That is why you need “the wisdom from above” which is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17) If your work is infused with that quality of wisdom, there is no telling how much you might accomplish.
Carry out your tasks by modeling what is required of all people: “to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8)
Winning is not enough. Dominance is empty. Common sense is not at all common. We pray that you will have the courage and selflessness of Solomon who said to God on the day he became a leader: “give me wisdom… to govern this great people.” (2 Chronicles 1:10)
I’ll catch you on the other side.