It was at Habbib’s BBQ

I was working just outside Newark, NJ. The traffic was especially heavy due to a soccer match and the cars were moving very slowly. I managed to find my destination and park in the parking lot. Just before starting my job, my stomach began to churn. I began to think of my options. My hotel was over an hour away and finding a place to go potty in Newark is next to impossible. There are no public bathrooms!

My stomach began to ache violently. My only option was to leave the car and walk down the street and find a bathroom. I got out and started walking, with that rather odd and distinctive sphincter clutching stride. Then I saw HABIB’S BBQ. I hastened my pace, only to be fouled out by a traffic cop who would not let me cross the street. I stood there and gave him my best “I am dying here type look.” He gave me that “I don’t care!” type look. Finally I could not take it. I crossed anyway. Officer Friendly became not so friendly as he blew his whistle like A New Orleans trumpet player, cheeks all red and such. He pointed at me to go back but my course was set! I walked past him and said, “I have to go to the bathroom.” I just kept walking sphincter tight mode and did not look back. I envisage myself in jail for years to come for this, but I had to go.

I entered into the small eatery. It was tiny, about 8 tables and a long counter. The tables were dressed in white cloth table covering and well appointed for a BBQ joint. I quickly made my way to the john.. It was a single seat bathroom, no urinal, clean and empty with a lock on the door. Needing to “drop anchor “ quickly I went and in 1.756 seconds I was experiencing comfort and relief.

Just after letting the first round of passengers off the bus, the door knob began to rattle. Since I had locked it the interloper was unable to get in. It persisted and then I yelled “Occupied!” as the second round of passengers left the bus. About 30 seconds later came a knock at the door. “I will be done in a minute.” I yelled. As I sat there what my old high school buddy Dale Bascue would call the “green vapors “ started to arise. The knocking persisted. Once more I yelled through the door that I was almost done.

I quickly finished up the paperwork, washed my hands and opened the door. Habib was standing there. I politely said “Excuse me” and walked past him. I soon about 3 steps when Habib yelled out to me: “You stunk up my bathroom!” Now his voice carried in the small establishment and the dozen or more customers all turned to look. Then Habib came out and said “You stunk up bathroom!” Then with his Soup Nazi accent he said “ Bathroom only for whiz whiz! You no go shu shu here. Whiz whiz only!” I half expected him to say “No shu shu for you! Come back one month!” with his raised index finger.

I smiled, thanked him for the use of his facilities and grabbed a Coke out of the cooler so at least I could say I was a paying customer if the cops showed up. I took it to the counter and attempted to pay when Habib followed me over and ordered me to leave and I could not complete the purchase. “No! Leave now!” And he grabbed the Coke off the counter away from me. I did the walk of shame past other horrified customers. I completed my perp walk knowing that every eye in the room was looking at me. So now I stand alone, me against the world. Probably the only person in recent memory to be refused service for going shu shu instead of whiz whiz only.

I walked out to cross the street and return to my car. Officer Friendly stood there. “Feeling better?” He asked. “Yes, but not really.” was my reply. I hate New Jersey!


Feeling Safe

I was going through the airport yesterday in Orlando. I was stopped, frisked, shoes removed, belt removed, and questioned about where I was from, where I was going, the nature of my travel, and other things. Then they took my luggage, went through every nick and cranny and asked me about everything in my bag. Then they took my spare 9 volt batteries, my AA and my AAAA (used in my stylus) and put them through the x-ray machine. Twice!

Question: Did this do anything to stop terrorism? If so, how?

Another question: Why me? I am just an average, middle aged, white trash background person on a business trip. Have there been a lot of people who fit my profile blowing up planes?

Yet another question: For the tens of millions of people who have had to remove their shoes for the last few years, have we caught a bad guy by doing so? If so, who?

Still another question: So if the new rules really do not address the problem, and inconvenience the wrong people, why do we do this? Because it makes us feel safe! That is, if you are a non-thinker! Feelings trump actual safety measures.

Florida just passed new “gun safety” laws. Will it do anything to make people safe? Mentally ill people will find it harder to get a weapon now. Except, which mental illness? The DSM has about 600 pages listing various mental disorders. How about depression? What about ADHD? What about gender dysphoria? What if the person has a personality disorder and is a real jerk? Will keeping this person from buying a gun (or taking one away) make anyone safer? No! It is not about safety. It is about feeling safer. Feelings are more important than actual actions.

Be Not Drunk With Wine, But Be Filled With the Spirit of God


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When you drive for Uber, you often meet some colorful people.  Having given well over 1,000 rides, I really can’t remember very many, but sometimes the more unusual thing happens and you meet people whom it is hard to forget.  I once picked up two very distinguished and elderly ladies one night.  The art gallery where I picked them up was in a rather upscale part of town and the gallery was well known to those who are in the know of such things.

As I pulled up to the curb to pick up the passengers, there were 3 women standing there. One was the director of the gallery and the two elderly ladies who were well into their 80s were my passengers.  It did not take long to realize that both of these ladies were totally drunk!  They slurred their words and their eyes were quite bloodshot.  Their behavior was typical of those who have had way too much to drink.  While this is not unusual in the Uber circuit, it is rather abnormal for ladies of this particular pre war generation.

I got out of the car to help the ladies in and notice the smell of alcohol.  The director of the art gallery apologized for having to call me, but said that she did not trust them to drive home by themselves.  It seemed that included in the evening’s activities of looking at art, there was also a wine and cheese tasting.  I asked the director how much they had to drink.  “All of it!” was her reply.  It looked it as these two old birds could barely stand.  We poured them into the back seat of my car and I promised to get them home safely.  Away I drove.

Upon arrival at the designated address I looked in the back seat and both of these ladies were passed out!  They were out cold.  I tried waking them, but to little avail.  Finally, after much shouting and patting them on the hand, I was able to wake them and get them to the front door.  I helped one lady with her keys and ushered them into their house.  Again, I know how to deal with a drunk.  I just had never seen one quite so old.

The Bible tells us in Ephesians to stop being controlled by wine, but instead be controlled by the Spirit of God.  How can you tell someone has had too much to drink?  Well, it is rather obvious.  First, you look at the way they act.  Do they look steady?  Do they look like they are aware of what is going on around them?  Do they look like they know where they are?  Second, you listen to them.  Are they able to carry on a conversation?  What is their language like?  Are they talking nonsense?  Third, you look at the way they walk.  Are they walking straight?  Are they able to do so without swaying too far in the wrong direction?  Do they stumble?  Do they stagger?

Well, if that is how you tell if someone has had too much to drink, then how do you tell if they are controlled by the Spirit?  The same way.  First, you look at the way they act.  Not everyone in church acts under control of the Spirit.  I know.  I am a Baptist and I have been to church business meetings that have more in favor with a blood sport and a cock fight than the appropriate conducting of God’s business.  I am convinced that Christians in the world today would have a much better reputation if we would just act right!

Second, you look at their conversation.  A drunk talks like a drunk.  A Spirit controlled person has their conversation under the control of the Spirit.  I am not talking about speaking in tongues.  I am referring to the things they talk about and the positive nature of their statements.  Are they affirming?  Are they encouraging?  Are they mindful of good things?  Are they concerned about others around them?  Once I was at a get together and met a young lady whose entire conversation began and ended with the latest Harry Potter movie and book.  That is all that she wanted to speak about and looked rather disappointed when I could not engage her in such talk. ( I am a Trekkie myself.)  As Christians our conversation needs to be more about the goodness of God, and  the glory of Him who died for us rather than the mundane things of life.

A third way you can tell a person is under the control of the Spirit is to watch the way they walk through life.  Are they in the right places?  Are they steady in their walk?  Do they stagger down the theological road of life?  A man I have known for many years is one of the most gifted evangelists that I have ever known.  He truly has that “harvest gift” when it comes to leading people to Christ.  Yet, in spite of a vast library of books that he has read and digested, he really does not know what he wants to be theologically when he grows up.  Once he was a fiery evangelist.  Later, he wanted to be a pastor of a mega church.  Then he wanted to love everyone and go into motivational preaching.  All well and good.  Then he became a raving charismatic.  He has even embraced certain aspects of Open Theism (The belief that God does not know everything.)  Later, he became a social justice warrior.  He currently is in the health and wealth aspects of the theological zeitgiest.  Over the years, I have watched him stagger from one guru to the next.  A man (or woman) who is controlled by the Spirit embraces truth and refuses to be associated with theological error.  A Spirit controlled person is steady in his ways and in his walk.  This does not mean he does not change direction, but rather his walk is not aimless but determined.  He knows where he is going and how to get their.

Spirit controlled temperament is meant to be a daily thing.  Just as you can tell if a person drinks on a daily basis, so too can you tell if a person imbibes of the Spirit of God on a daily basis.

Finding Your True Identity


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It was a slow Tuesday night in the Uber world.  I had been driving for several hours and had only picked up a few people for very short trips.  My next ride was going to prove to my one of my most unusual.  I arrived at his house within a few minutes and an average looking white male in his mid 30s got in the back seat.  I noticed that when I hit “destination” that nothing came up.  I asked if he had a specific place that he wanted to go.  His reply was “No, I just want to ride around a little if that is good.”  I told him that I could put in his home address as our destination and we could ride around as much as he wanted.

I started down the road and he then asked me if he could roll down the window.  I replied that I can turn up the AC if he needed more air.  He said, “No, that is OK, you see, I self identify as a dog and I like riding around with the window down.”  At first I thought he was joking but for some reason, I felt that he was not.  I rolled down the window and soon he began to stick his head out the window as we rode down the highway.  I looked back, and for a moment, he really did look like a dog.  He was more Great Dane looking than Beagle.

We rode around for about 20 minutes and then he said that I could take him home.  He was nice, polite, and did not piddle on the rug.  No rolled up news paper was necessary.  He told me that getting to ride around like that relaxed him as he felt that he could be himself.  We arrived back at this home.  He thanked me and then got out of the car.

I really did not know what to think as I drove away.  I was glad to be of service to him, but I am not really sure what kind of service that I actually was as I seemed to play into his own self imposed delusion.  He did give a $5 tip, so there’s that!

This man’s identity was not bound up in his name, his profession, or his abilities.  His identity was wrapped up in believing that he was a dog.  Here was a man, judging from the neighborhood, who had many accomplishments.  His problem was that he saw himself through the lens of a dog.

As Christians we often see ourselves through the lens of the world rather than the eyes of the Lord.  We are created in His image.  We have been created anew in the likeness of Christ.  All of our hopes, dreams, aspirations, and possibilities are all found not in the likeness of sinful flesh, but in our relationship with the living Son of God.  I hope that you will time this week to reflect upon this image and likeness as you serve the One who not only loved you before time began, but has an ultimate plan for you for when time meets its end.

The Breakfast of Champions


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Breakfast-of-Champions-spoon-and-fork-logoNo, I am not talking about a box of Wheaties.  While that may be a fine product, we do not consume it in our house because we find it less satisfying than a bowl of Fruit Loops.  This morning I made my Saturday morning breakfast; something which has been a weekly ritual for many years.  We had sausage, bacon, eggs, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, along with milk, juice, and coffee for the Spouse.  As I thought about this fine meal, it brought to mind the number of people involved in the meal.  There are the pig farmers who provide the sausage; the dairy farmers who provide the milk and butter; wheat farmers who provide the pancakes and biscuits; and of course, we cannot leave out Juan Valdeze who provides the Columbian coffee.  But wait; there are more.  There are the wonderful people at Kroger who paid to ship, store, and retail these products.  There are the people at WalMart who help keep the prices affordable through competition.  There is Costco who provides the plates, pots and pans, flatware and glasses with which we temporarily house the food on our table.  I could also include the table maker and the housing industry, but let’s keep it simple.

In the discussion this morning, Spouse and Kid also bemoaned the growth hormones in the food, but I was quick to remind them that without these valuable chemicals, we would have less meat and it would be more expensive, and thus out of the reach of the common man.  Without the chemicals, we would have less wheat and fruit and the livestock would be sick and would produce milk and eggs that would be less consumable and more expensive.  I also reminded them that our flu shots help keep us healthy.

To add to the breakfast, you cannot forget my employers (GMR, Liberty University, Lyft, and Uber), and Presbyterian Hospital where Spouse works.  They give us money in exchange for a service that we use to purchase the materials for the breakfast.  In all, there are probably thousands of nameless people (nameless but to God) who make it possible for us to enjoy a Saturday morning breakfast expertly prepared with much love to a sleepy Spouse and Kid.  Who knew that so much went into a family breakfast.

Tomorrow as we attend worship, we will sit in a Sunday School class and be taught the Word of God.  This message was inspired long ago by people we will never meet until we go to heaven.  Hopefully, it will be taught by a person who has studied the lesson in advance, perhaps through the use of a curriculum written by someone he or she has never met.  It is purchased by churches who receive tithes and offerings that are used to buy the curriculum.

Tomorrow, you will probably hear a choir or a praise team singing music written by people now in heaven or destined to such.  It will be led by a person who has practiced with musicians and singers in order to not put on a show, but to show us a glimpse of heaven itself where there will be a heavenly choir with real angels!

Tomorrow, we will sit in a building that was built with often nameless carpenters, plumbers, electricians, decorators and designers.  Don’t forget, the building was purchased by people who gave (often at great sacrifice) to build and keep the lights on and the carpet clean.

Tomorrow, we will go to church and see countless parking attendants, greeters, ushers, deacons, elders, and prayer room volunteers.  All there so that people will hopefully encounter the Creator of the universe and come to know Him; some for the first time, and some with a closer walk.

Tomorrow, you will hear a preacher who has studied, not only that week for the message, but a man who utilizes tools that he learned in seminary studies (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Theology, History, Philosophy, Speech and Communication, and Pastoral Care).  Someone, like me.  A lowly, seminary and university trained professor who is tasked with teaching the next generation of Christian teachers, preachers, philosophers, writers, thinkers and apologists, missionaries, Sunday School teachers, deacons, elders, and pastors.

The Scripture says in Ephesians 4:16 “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”  God has His people, out doing His thing; all over His creation.

The Walk of Shame

Walk of shameThe other day as I was doing my current full-time job I was summoned to pick up “Kristi.” It was about 10 AM and I drove to the rather run-down neighborhood and found the house. I tapped the app that I arrived and Kristi came out of the house. She was a young lady, blonde, pretty, about 20 years old. She looked to be in a hurry (maybe because it was cold) and she got into my car.

We exchanged greetings and I tapped the app and away we went for about a 30 minute drive. I asked if she was headed to work and she replied that the was going home.

A few minutes of awkward silence happened and then she asked me a question: “How long should a girl wait for a guy to get out of the shower before she leaves?” I replied that I was not sure there was a set time etiquette-wise. Then I asked “Why?

In the course of the conversation I learned that she went out to a club the night before and “hooked up” with a guy was way older (29) and this morning he announced that he had to go to work and then went and took a long shower. After 20 minutes or so she got tired of waiting for him and called for a ride and I showed up shortly.

I really did not know what exactly to say to her. Her question seemed to her to be legit, but she really needed an answer that she was not prepared to hear. I had no reason to preach to her or try to guilt her in any way. You see, rather or not she believed that she had “sinned” or not, the empty feelings of meaningless relationships had done nothing to bring her fulfillment.

I thought of my own daughter, only a few years younger than this girl. I hope that my child never becomes a “Kristi.” You see, Kristi was someone’s daughter. Whether her father taught her different than what I teach my kid or not, I do not know.

I asked her whether or not she was happy and fulfilled. Kristi replied that she was not. Yes, she had fun with her friends, but no, it had brought nothing lasting to her life. That is when I asked: “Tell me, is your self esteem better this morning than before?” Of course, the answer was again, “No.” I then went on to explain to her that the difference between men and women is that for a woman, the more sexual partners she has, the lower her self esteem goes. That is because it is not just physical, but emotional and spiritual. Instead of bringing pleasure, it tends to rip your heart out. Some call it a loss of self-esteem, but it is really guilt brought on by the fact that we “fall short.” Women want to share their heart; men want to share a bed. For women, it is more about emotion. For men, it is about conquest. Like it or not, she had been “conquered.” She was used for another’s pleasure for different reasons and different results.

As we pulled into her very nice, upscale neighborhood, I closed our conversation with this: “You are someone’s child. and they want the very best for you. I found the very best in my relationship with Christ. I hope you find the same.” With that, we pulled into her home and a tear ran down her cheek. She thanked me for the ride and got out. I pulled away with a prayer that the walk of shame would one day lead to a walk of faith.

The Left is Nuts


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nutsThe left is nuts! There I said it. Don’t believe me? Just a few examples:

1. It is nuts to believe that you can kill a fetus right up to the moment of birth and a few centimeters in the birth canal grants “personhood.”

2. It is nuts to believe that you can outlaw guns and all criminals who commit crimes will now lay down their arms because the law says to do so.

3. It is nuts to believe that a long documented mental disorder is some new found third gender like discovering a new species of life on the Galapagos Islands.

4. It is nuts to believe that Hillary was not in collusion with the Russians when one fifth of our uranium was turned over to them and her foundation receives $145 million in exchange and her husband is given a $500,000 speaking fee. After all, she was Secretary of State!

5. It is nuts to believe that you can re-define marriage and it have no affect on the institution itself. If you flood the banks with counterfeit money, sooner or later, it will begin to affect the value of the real currency. This re-definition of marriage cheapens the value of the actual. Young people are putting off marriage. Co-habitation among young adults is at an all time high. Children born outside the bonds of marriage is at an all time high. Re-define marriage all you want; but it will negatively impact society.

Liberalism is an existential emotional outburst by those who think they are smarter, better, more moral, and care more than the rest of us. Right thinking people know that is just nuts!

Reconsidering Mass Murder

GunControl-800x445I have been looking at the mass shootings that have been going on and have come to the following conclusions:
1. All are committed by men with the lone exception of the San Bernardino shooters who were husband and wife.
2. All involved a gun. Sometimes the gun was purchased legally and sometimes it was stolen, borrowed, or obtained illegally. The Columbine and Sandyhook shootings were done with weapons stolen from parents.   The Garland, TX attempted mass murderers obtained their weapons through Erick Holder’s Justice Department during the Obama administration’s Operation Fast and Furious.  In the most recent incident the shooter lied on his application/background check (a Federal crime) and the incompetence of the government allowed him to obtain a weapon illegally!
3. In all cases, the shooter was willing to be killed rather than surrender. A few were taken alive, but most were killed or killed themselves while committing the crime.
4.  None of the killers were members of the NRA but the NRA was blamed each and every time for the crimes of people who were not a part of their organization.
5. If someone is hell bent on killing themselves, there is nothing that you can do to stop them. They will find a way. Short of locking them up prior to the act, there is no way to stop them.
6. A good guy with a gun is the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun unless he commits suicide first. The Garland, TX shooters (terrorists) were stopped by the cops. The BLM shooter in Dallas was blown up by cops. The latest incident was stopped by a good guy with a gun.
7. No law written will stop someone hell bent on breaking the law. In addition to committing murder, attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and a host of other crimes, the latest shooter lied on his background check. What other law that could be enacted that would have stopped him?
8. The only possible law short of a total gun ban that is left is to outlaw private sales of firearms. In other words, make all firearm purchases (non retail or non whole sale) subject to going through the local FFL. However, while this may prevent a law abiding person from purchasing a firearm from a neighbor, it will do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to prevent a mass killing, particularly when the person is willing to die while doing it.  None of the mass killings were committed with a weapon that was the result of a private sale.  To make it illegal to do so is to address a problem that simply does not exist.
9. Before proposing new laws that restrict law abiding folk, how about you first enforce the laws that are currently on the books. Mandatory jail terms of 20 years for any crime committed with a firearm. That would practically cure Chicago’s problems in a few months. Prosecute those who commit a crime by falsely filling out an application for a background check.  This is an enforced law that needs to be enforced.
10. Several other things that these shooters had in common with each other is that they were either on antidepressants, were Muslim, or were liberal / socialist/ or anarchy types. There was often a lot of overlap. If liberals would just stop committing violence against the opposition, that would cure a lot of problems.
Evil is as evil does. These shooters were pure evil. Evil has existed since the dawn of time and will, sadly continue until the end of time. There is only one heart changing thing that can be done and that involves the grace of Jesus Christ.

Of Church and Other Things


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churchIt has been an interesting two months since I left pastoring.  During the last few weeks I have not preached, taught, spoken, or otherwise engaged in anything close to ministry with the exception of taking a shut-in to the grocery store and visiting a few sick people in the hospital and nursing homes.  I must say, it has been an interesting time.  I am working through various emotions such as hurt, anger, disappointment, and bewilderment.  I am not one to hold a grudge but I do get angry from time to time.  I find that prayer helps a lot when I am angry and I pray best when I am busy at mundane tasks such as mowing the grass.  I have the best lawn in Buffalo Creek!  I have also learned that the value of friendship is priceless.  Even the Bildad, Elephad, and Zophar type of friends have their value.

During this time my family has had the opportunity to visit several churches in our area. I have enjoyed this time of refreshing and it is always interesting to see how others engage in worship.  I have enjoyed some great preaching and some wonderful music.  I have also watched a lot of churches and great messages on YouTube.  Here are some things that I have observed:

  1. Music can be great no matter what style.  I have seen large church choirs and small worship teams over the last few weeks.  When it is done well, the style is of little consequence and more of a matter of personal taste.
  2. Music ministers and preachers should always try to “get over themselves.”  We did not come to see/hear you but the message from God that you have been working on all week.
  3. Humor is a great aid to worship.  Worship is by its very nature emotional and intellectual.  Laughter reflects emotions and when music and message engage at this level, not only is it fun, it can be very healthy.
  4. Music ministers should limit their speaking to relevant information about the song. Don’t try to preach and keep it on point.  Tell the background of Amazing Grace or It is Well if that helps, but remember that it needs to be brief.  Saying nothing at all is always safe.
  5. Endless guitar strumming at the beginning of a song is not good.  Unless you can finger-pick a guitar like Glen Campbell, limit yourself to no more than 3 chords to introduce your song.
  6. Sing Jesus music.  By that, I mean music that reflects the name, message, majesty, or personhood of Jesus.  Don’t be afraid to use the name “Jesus” either.  Avoid the “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs as they tend to be kind of creepy.
  7. Preachers – I have heard some great messages over the past few weeks.  Remember that your words minister to a broad spectrum of people and all of us have issues, problems, challenges, and hurts.  We are to be salt and light but don’t rub salt in the wounds!
  8. As we enter our worship experience, don’t worship “worship.”  This is sort of hard to explain other than reminding us that when we worship anyone other than God, we are worshiping an idol.
  9. Preachers – Don’t preach safe messages.  Galatians 1:10 reminds us that we are to seek the approval of God and not men.
  10. There are some churches out there who think they are way too cool.  Pastors who wear skinny jeans and muscle shirts and platform shoes look ridiculous.  Proverbs 16:18 reminds us that pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.
  11. There are some churches where “anything goes.”  They constantly remind us not to judge.  If you find yourself in a church that approves of that which the Bible clearly condemns, run away!  Be that sins of homosexuality, living together before marriage, or gossip!
  12. Beware of the personality cult.  When a church website has more information about the preacher and his latest book, DVD, conference, Holy Land trip, or vacation slides, it makes you wonder who they are trying make famous; Jesus or the preacher.
  13. Church leaders come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and giftedness.  An extrovert and an introvert can both point people to the cross.
  14. Beware of the salt losing its flavor.  When a church becomes more involved in Social Justice causes, Heath and Wealth, Left-wing and Right-wing politics in place of the true gospel, it has lost its purpose and has become another gospel.

Worship is more than music.  I often hear a preacher talk of a “worship leader.”  The preacher is a worship leader as well.  Every aspect of the time spent with God’s people should be a spiritual act of worship; from the singing, the praying, the reading of scripture, the preaching, the giving, churchthe commitment, and even the fellowship afterwards.  It is all part of the worship experience and it is bigger than one person, except for the Lord Jesus.

An Eclipse of the Heart


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eclipse 2017We have an eclipse coming on August 21, 2017.  It will cover much of the country for several minutes and it will be decades before the USA will experience such a cosmic event again.  I remember being in a near total eclipse back in the 70s when I was in high school.  It was said at the time that chickens in our community became disorientated and began laying eggs in the middle of the day.  Not having such a bird, I cannot confirm this.

An eclipse is an amazing sight.  For a few minutes, during which time it should be its brightest, the sky darkens and appears as night.  If you are driving, you might have to turn on your headlights if you do not have automatic headlights.  Looking into it directly is dangerous and I understand you can purchase eclipse glasses from Amazon for a price that will drop dramatically on August 22nd.

We live in a day that is already experiencing a near total eclipse.  Not an astronomical event but a moral and spiritual event.  We live in a time where there is a near total eclipse of the heart.  Think about this:

  • We can go anywhere in the world in only a few hours.  Travel that once took months and put your life in grave risk, now takes only a few hours, sitting in a chair 6 miles in the atmosphere.  You walk on the plane in Dallas, sit down, sleep and enjoy a meal and a drink.  Before you know it, you are in Hong Kong, or Russia, or thousands of other places throughout the world.
  • The sum total knowledge of the world is as far away as a Google search.  Want to know what a baseball player’s batting average was for any given year?  Just Google it.  Want to know how to replace a spark plug on your riding lawn mower? There is probably a YouTube video to show you how.  No knowledge is beyond your cell phone’s reach.  Coffee shop arguments are often settled with Siri.
  • We live in comfort.  We sleep on soft beds in air conditioned homes.  We eat food stored in a refrigerator.  We drive in luxury listening to any song we want, downloaded to our phones and piped through the Bose speakers in the car.
  • We do not fear getting eaten by wild animals.  None of us have ever had a relative die of scurvy or small pox.  If you fail to brush your teeth and the dentist has to pull it, they can implant another for about $1200.  Replaceable teeth!

Yet, in spite of our technological advancements, the heart of man is just as dark.  At a time when we should be at our best, humanity is engaged against modern day barbarians who delight in sawing off the heads of “infidels.”

The modern church is far from exempt from this eclipse of the heart.  Many churches are too engaged in a fight for Social Justice to share the Good News of Jesus.  Other churches have sought after a different gospel; the Health and Wealth variety.  This gospel is proclaimed in churches and on the airwaves 24/7.  They promise healing, prosperity, restoration, and happiness for an indulgence of a seed faith offering.

Still other evangelical churches find themselves burdened with debt for buildings that are filled only a few hours a week.  They have the best sound systems that money can buy and the most comfortable of pews.  The video systems rival that of an IMax theater.  The pastors have degrees from the best institutions of higher learning and the music would rival any Broadway musical in quality.  Yet, despite such wealth, free will offerings are often used to service debt than send missionaries on the field with the tools they need to do their jobs.  Not all churches are like this, but sadly too many are.

Then, sadly, there are the vast majority of churches that are just dead.  They believe right; but their faith is cold and uninviting.  It is a faith that clings to tradition at the expense of change.  It clings to its buildings, budgets, and bureaucratic procedures and complex man-made rules and has little time for telling people about Jesus.  I once had a man tell me that if our church grew, the parking lot might be full.  I replied that was a good thing. His reply?  “Well, what if there is an accident?”  Such unfounded fear would keep us from Walmart on Saturdays.

A solar eclipse is when the moon gets in the way of the sun.  An eclipse of the heart is when we get in the way of the Son of God.  The eclipse of the heart plunges us into darkness.  Look at a solar eclipse and you can go blind.  Look at an eclipse of the heart long enough and you will become spiritually blind.  In a solar eclipse, you can lose your way.  If an eclipse of the heart, the church has lost its way.

So what are we to do?  Tear down our buildings and give all that we have to the poor?  Abandon modern worship and dispense with corporate gatherings?  No, this is not the solution because it is not the cause of the problem.  The problem is us.  We must change.  The change must begin with us and it begins in our own hearts.  A renewal is only a change of heart away.  Fortunately, we serve a God who is in the very business of changing hearts.