February 2016

Almost midnight on Sunday evening. Church was great today and message for next week off to a great start! You should come by next Sunday at 11 am.

But tonight I reflect and write about an area that has become very dark in our community, and the truth is, around our country. Politics. The elections, the processes, the lawsuits, the crudeness and the mess we seem to find ourselves in on many levels.

One thing that keeps coming to mind is that it is all so unnecessary.

We don’t need to treat each other like this! We live in the same community, drive the same streets, eat at the same restaurants, shop in the same stores and went to the same schools. We should be in harmony. Maybe not playing the same note, but all contributing our voice and coming together in harmony.

I worry about the character of our community. I worry about the image we give others of our community. I wonder how much more division our community can take before it completely breaks down into something we would never want to see or leave for our kids.

I may share my writings for tonight in the coming days, I feel there is much to share, but wonder if there is any heart, any desire, to change the current reality for something different, for anything better.

There has to come a time when a rebuilding and reuniting occurs! A time when we stop demanding our own way and start looking for ways to come together for the common good.

Tonight my heart aches for our community and our country. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can debate and disagree without being destructive.

Please help our community heal. Thanks

Late night musings on the state of our body politic both locally and nationally
UNEDITED – “word puke”
We live in a beautiful community. We are blessed to live in a place rich in history with an amazing potential for the future. We are a hardworking and generous people who will come together to help one another. Our youth continue to exceed our expectations in all areas of their life! We have rolling hills, fruitful farmland, ranchland full of cattle and a wide and wonderful river with a bridge into our southern neighbor’s towns.
Great things are happening in Rio Grande City and Starr County thanks to the dedication of civic minded folks who hope to build better for their children. Sure, we have a few areas we need to improve like employment and graduation rates, but we are steadily improving in all areas.
Well, maybe not all areas. One area that seems to remain the same or even trend lower is how we treat each other around election time. We somehow decide this is the time to reach out and hurt each other with words and deeds.
We forget that the same children we want better lives for are watching and learning how to live in community with each other in the future.
We stain our heritage, our present and our future by our unnecessary crude behavior.
We teach them good sportsmanship in sports, but something quite different in our politics. We should learn the lessons their coaches are teaching our kids! Play hard. Play clean. Be humble in victory and in defeat. Work hard to improve your skills for the next contest.
People outside our community do not think about our historic buildings, rich heritage of growing economy when they hear the name “Rio Grande City!” They think corruption, and political battles. We bring shame on ourselves by our own behavior!!
It is all so unnecessary! It is all so crude and profane. It is a blight on our community. One thing I do admire in anyone that runs for public office here is their courage! They know what will be flung at them and their families, and they choose to run anyway.
There is not enough time to fuss over every little tidbit of minutia and still get things done. We don’t have time to hate.
We need unity and committed progress today. To delay only hurts our community. Life is far too short to waste it on gossip and backbiting! Life is too short for hate and destruction. Let us use our limited time constructively.
While we will never agree on everything and will have varying goals and methods, somewhere we need to come together on building a better community for everyone!
I worry about the character of our community. I pray for the unity of our community. The fracture that continues to be pried further and further apart by our political groups could be on the very verge of destruction.
Shame on us.
We deserve better.
We should demand better!
Those in elected office should hear that we expect you to act with honor, justice, honesty, integrity, loyalty and trust. We chose you to hold office to represent all of our families. We need you to hold the best interest of our community at the forefront of your time of service. Do the right things in the right ways for the right reasons. We will be watching.
Those running for office should hear that we need you to run campaigns that will build our community, not divide it! We understand that you will disagree with the methods or platforms of your opponents! Tell us your plans and goals. Lay out your vision for a stronger community. We will listen.
Your political opponent is your neighbor, a fellow citizen. They are not terrorists. There is no need for “scorched earth” politics.
We don’t need to treat each other with venom and attack! We live in the same community, drive the same streets, eat at the same restaurants, shop in the same stores and went to the same schools. We should be in harmony. Maybe not playing the same note, but all contributing our voice and coming together in harmony.
Life is too short for hate and destruction. Let us use our limited time constructively. We are better when we are building! Build unity.
To everyone involved in the process. Thank you for supporting your candidate! We know you will work hard as advocates for them.
Please, do not turn the process from one of debate and promotion to one of destruction. Tell us why you think we should vote for your person. We will listen.
Gossip, backbiting, plotting, lying, conniving and other types of dark politic are evil and unnecessary. The use of underhanded and divisive tactics tell us more about your character than the person you are trying to bring down. We will listen.
We have all heard the excuse, “that’s just the way it has always been.” We sigh with agreement while we know it can be better! It must be better.
We need a new normal.
Character matters. Method matters. Language matters.
Truth matters.
Love and unity matter.
I love this community and much of the political process hurts the heart of the community. We should be better and we should treat each other better.
I am proud of this community and the progress we have made in the past 16 years I have served here! I wonder how much further we could have come if we expended the energy wasted in fighting and bickering on moving forward?
Please be part of a process of constructive healing.

Luke 9:21 – 27                       Suffering to Gain

Luke 9:21 – 27   And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”   And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

Today, we don’t understand the true meaning of sacrifice and suffering.   The poorest among us live like kings compared to 3 and 4th world countries today AND like our own ancestors just a few decades ago.

Current generations have never known a ration card or military draft.

We have only studied slavery, the horrors of Auschwitz or the terror of regimes brutalizing their own citizens.

We just don’t understand.   We want to FEEL like we do, but we don’t.

Some today feel like they “should”  somehow suffer to identify with their history.  I believe it was out of this desire to identify that the “Black Lives Matter” protest was born.  None of them have never known slavery AND the ones they attack have never known OWNERSHIP of another human being!

But someone told them they should be down with the struggle, even though they REALLY WOULD NOT LIKE TO KNOW THE TRUE STRUGGLE of their ancestors.

We live in the very LAP of luxury.

The Gospel is spreading faster in third and fourth world areas FASTER than here in the USA! Why?  We have it made.  WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND OUR NEED FOR JESUS!  They do!  He is ALL THEY HAVE!

We also have no context to understand the suffering of Jesus Christ.

We hear about it, we learn about it, but we have never experienced anything like what He experienced for us.

Even our attempts at suffering for/WITH Christ are failures.  No meat Fridays.  No internet for a month.  Whatever.

We are no better that the Dallas kids with “AFFLUENZA” – we feel we are entitled to “A good life” or “Our Best Life Ever”

We are not!  The scripture paints a very different story of being a faithful Christian….STARTING WITH JESUS

We know the time will come when we get our toys or meals back.  A Jew is Auschwitz did not have ANY HOPE.

Jesus was heading into His final days here in the flesh.  He was about to die.  And He knew it!

  1. As Jesus did all the work of ministry He knew what was coming
    1. He healed folks, knowing He would soon die
    2. He comforted hurting folks, knowing He would soon be ridiculed, mocked, violently abused and killed
    3. He was rejected by the very people He knew He was soon going to die for on an old rugged timber cross
  2. He was railed against and rejected by the very ones who should have been shepherding people towards Him
    1. The temple elite
  3. With all we know about Jesus yielding His own life FOR OURS … WHY do we withhold so much from Him?
  4. He bore the Cross
    1. Why will we not walk as He walked?
    2. Do we not respect and honor His love and sacrifice enough to follow Him?
    3. Do we not love Him enough to obey His commandments?
    4. He gave HIS LIFE for us so that we could have eternal life
    5. Why are we not be willing to yield our life to Him?
      1. So we can gain the world and beyond?
    6. Your “Best Life Ever” is all about gaining the KINGDOM OF GOD
      1. Service
      2. Sacrifice
      3. Selflessness
        1. Your BEST LIFE is not about YOU!
          1. It is about God
          2. It is about others
        2. Why would He do ANY OF THIS?
          1. There is only one force on earth or in heaven that would cause anyone to even slightly consider giving their life for another!
            1. LOVE
              1. Love of Country
              2. Love of another person
              3. Love of God

It is said that Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire, once had captured a prince and his family. When they came before him, the monarch asked the prisoner, “What will you give me if I release you?” “The half of my wealth,” was his reply. “And if I release your children?” “Everything I possess.” “And if I release your wife?” “Your Majesty, I will give myself.” Cyrus was so moved by his devotion that he freed them all. As they returned home, the prince said to his wife, “Wasn’t Cyrus a handsome man!” With a look of deep love for her husband, she said to him, “I didn’t notice. I could only keep my eyes on you- -the one who was willing to give himself for me.

  • Jesus MUST
    • Suffer
    • Be Rejected
    • Be Killed
    • Be Raised
  • Christians
    • Deny self
    • Take up His cross
    • Follow Jesus
  • Yield your life for His sake
  • Gain the KINGDOM OF GOD

Luke 8:41-56             FAITHING IT

Faith is such an important quality.

Hebrews 11:1-6 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the people of old received their commendation.  By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.  By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.  By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”   ESV

Simple Definition of faith. strong belief or trust in someone or something. : belief in the existence of God : strong religious feelings or beliefs. : a system of religious beliefs.

Faith is not a noun; I think Merriam-Webster got this wrong.

Faith is not just the name of something!

Faith is an ACTION!  Faith is a STATE OF BEING!

Faith is a verb

If your FAITH is not ACTIVE, then it is FAKE.

The world, especially the religious world, does not need more FAKER!

FAITHING = the practice of a faith.  Collins Dictionary

We need more real FAITHERS!

People who know WHO they believe in and take action!  LIVING their life by FAITH

Abel, Enoch, Abraham and the others talked about in Hebrews 11 did not just sit around talking about their faith – THEY WENT OUT AND LIVED THEIR FAITH!

I would propose to you today that, Biblically speaking, one cannot HAVE FAITH without PRACTICING FAITH.

You can talk about faith all you want, but it is not until you ACTIVATE your faith that it becomes real!

James 2:14-17 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”    ESV

“Faith without works is dead”      It is an imitation life.  It is FAKE!

Today we ask the question: “Are we FAITHING life or FAKING it?”

Faith is emphasized in these two miracles found in our text.

  • FAITHING life means you go and seek Jesus and ASK Him for help and Hope. Verses 8:40 – 42
    • Faking life depends on what you can “drum up” all on your own
  • FAITHING life means reaching out to Jesus even when it is hard and doesn’t make much human sense. Verses 8:43 – 44
    • Faking life worries about what others may think or how you will look
  • FAITHING life means trusting what God says more than what man says. Verses 8: 49-50
    • Faking life depends on the word of fallen man and mankind’s limited knowledge and wisdom
  • FAITHING life means gaining the rewards of God
    • Healing – Verse 8:48
    • Restoration – Verse 8:54 – 55
      • Faking life only gains earthly rewards or the rewards of other fallen mankind.
        • Temporary

Are you FAITHING life or FAKING life?

It is one thing to talk about faith, it is another thing to share faith

It is one thing to learn about faith, it is another thing to live faith

Faith is a VERB!   Are YOU living it?