Wars and Rumors of Wars

Fear, outrage, helplessness and eventually apathy colonize our imaginations and take up residence in our hearts. These experiences and emotions are not unique to modern humans. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not allow that to distract you, cause you to fear, or shape your reality. Focus on what you know to be true and what is right in front of you.

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you dare not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” (Matthew 24:6-7)

Every human being attempts to make sense of the world, human history, events and trajectory.

We moderns possess the blessing and curse of realtime global communication through powerful technologies. The chaos, injustice and suffering of the entire globe can be seen and heard through tiny screens in the palms of our hands. The impact of the images, scenes and helpless cries are felt in our hearts. For many, we can’t unsee horrible images seared into our minds.

Fear, outrage, helplessness and eventually apathy colonize our imaginations and take up residence in our hearts.

These experiences and emotions are not unique to modern humans. Human history is marked by tribulations and conflicts. However, what makes the current moment singularly unparalleled in history is the velocity and quantity of information that we can access at our fingertips.

Think about it. Today is February 24, 2022.

On this date in 1836, a cry for help was sent forth by the commander of a tiny garrison of less than 200 men defending a small Spanish mission against 5,000 enemy troops. The enemy general called for the surrender of the men occupying the mission or they would be “put to the sword.” The reply from Colonel William Travis to General Antonio de Santa Ana’s demand was cannon fire.

In one of the most famous letters ever penned in human history, Col. Travis wrote:

To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World-

Fellow Citizens & compatriots-

I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna – I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man – The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken – I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls – I shall never surrender or retreat…(He goes on to write) If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country –

Victory or Death.


William Barret Travis

186 years ago is a blink of an eye in human history. Communications required days, weeks and even months to reach their destinations. In 1836, most of the world was unaware of the now famous “Battle at the Alamo” in a place called “Texas.” Most of the world didn’t even know Texas existed, nor would they care if they did know.

Life expectancy in the 1800s was between 40-45 years. Let that sink in for a moment. Daily existence was extremely difficult – death was a daily occurrence. Today, life expectancy is around 73 years globally.

What does this have to do with “wars and rumors of wars”?

Whether we are aware of it or not, our powerful technologies deliver massive amounts of information from around the world to our handheld devices. My iPhone is millions of times more powerful than the computers used by NASA to guide Apollo 11 to the moon and back.

Our modern devices shape our reality and worldview. When an earthquake occurs on a tiny island in the South Pacific Ocean, I know within seconds. When one nation’s leader is threatening another, I know almost immediately. When a school shooting occurs in a city hundreds of miles away, I can see realtime coverage on my device! All of the pain, suffering, chaos, tragedy, evil and terror in the whole world is delivered immediately into my hands. Most of the time, these emotional scenes bypass logic and reason impacting our imaginations and emotions. The result is a constant state of malaise, helplessness, and fear.

How does one make sense of it all?

The Bible offers us the answers and a framework to help us.

First, we must understand that “In the beginning God created” all things (Genesis 1-2). God stated that His creation was “good.” Furthermore, when God created humans in “His own image,” He said humans were “very good.”

Second, we learn that humans chose to rebel against God in Genesis 3 and turn inwards in an attempt to become “like God.” This “fall” of humanity into sin brought all of creation into conflict with the Creator. Shame, guilt and hate soon entered God’s good creation. One chapter later, we see the first murder in human history (Genesis 4 – Cain and Able). Since then, the entire world has spiraled into chaos, injustice and suffering.

Third, we see God initiate a plan to set things right when He sends His only son, Jesus Christ to redeem the world through his death on a Roman cross and bodily resurrection from the dead. The name “Jesus” is “Yeshua” or “Joshua” in Hebrew. The name means “the Lord saves.” “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name as some people would think. “Christ” is a title. It means “Messiah” (Mashiach) or “anointed one of God.” But, what is Jesus Christ saving us from? He saves us from the eternal separation created from the fall (Genesis 3).

The Bible says that Jesus came to “seek and save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10). In God’s providence and wisdom, He had a plan to redeem that which humanity lost and that which humans do not possess the ability to reclaim for themselves. This is where the man or woman can have real hope for today by trusting that Jesus accomplished His mission. While we’ll still continue to experience the effects of sin and evil in this life, we know they are defeated. Wars and rumors of wars is the current state of things – but not the eternal state of things.

Wars and rumors of wars is the current state of things – but not the eternal state of things.

Forth, we learn that there will come a time when God will restore ALL things. He will set everything back in order throughout creation. The chaos, injustice, evil, pain, suffering and death will be swallowed up in a victorious unfolding of God’s restoration (Revelation 21). This is where we have real hope for the future.

So what does all this mean for me today?

When you scroll through the news feeds on your smartphone today, you will see the truth of a world gone wrong. You know deep in your heart that this is not the way it is supposed to be. This is the objective truth of Genesis 3 to Revelation 20 shining through our dim reality. Even if you don’t believe what I’ve just laid out above, take a moment and reflect… Is what the Bible says about reality in this world true?

Finally, when you scroll through your news feed and you feel your heart breaking, or anger, or hopelessness or fear, set your device down and close your eyes.

Consider the following thoughts:

What is the crisis or opportunity I can take responsibility for or take initiative to help RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME? Set aside the world’s massive problems and look around your immediate relationships. Our immediate lives abound with crisis and opportunities right in front of us. My advice is to begin right there. The world changes one life at a time.

Is there something good in your life or someone else’s that you can celebrate?

Is there something missing from someone’s life or perhaps in your community that you can contribute something good toward?

Is there something bad in your life or in the community that you can stop?

Is there something broken in your life or someone else’s life that you can help restore?

When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not allow that to distract you, cause you to fear, or shape your reality. Focus on what you know to be true and what is right in front of you.

Jesus gives us hope:

“Fear not, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 41:10)

“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)

“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)

Read the full passages

Signs of the End of the Age (Matthew 24:3-14)

3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

God will make all things new (Revelation 21:3-5)

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Source of Good

Source of Good

Darkness is defined as the “absence of light.” Goodness must have good as it’s source. The ancient Hebrews described this as ‘light’. Evil is the absence of good and described as ‘darkness’.

Evil (darkness) is not something. It is the lack of good (light).

The rightness of the moral law reflects the righteous source of the moral law.

“Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules.” (Ps. 119:137)

An intrinsically good source produces goodness. It is reflective of it’s essence. Where there is no good, evil exists. Where there is no light, darkness exists.

“The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.” (Ps 119:130)

God creates doorways through suffering

God creates doorways through suffering

When Kathryn and I were dating, her grandmother (lovingly called ‘Mom-mom’) began experience catastrophic health problems. She had a series of strokes and ended up in a full-time nursing facility. Kathryn’s parents visited her daily and cared for her needs. Kat and I would go visit her on occasion. It was tough for me because I did not have a close relationship with Mom-mom at the time.

It was while she was in assisted living center and later, nursing home that God created a beautiful doorway to enter into a relationship with Mom-mom. We got to know each other more and more as we visited. She spent many months in the home as her condition would deteriorate then improve, and deteriorate again.

On one occasion, Kat and her parents were all out of town at the same time. They asked me to check on Mom-mom while they were away.  I remember that she was in bad shape, confined to a bed and surrounded by machines. So, I sat with her and talked to her as I held her frail hand in mine. We talked about Kathryn. I told Mom-mom how much I loved Kat. I made Mom-mom a promise that day. I promised her that I would take care of Kathryn no matter what happened. A few weeks later, sweet Mom-mom passed away.

Our daughter carries Mom-mom’s name, Lillian (Lilly). I still carry Mom-mom’s kindness and words of encouragement in my heart to this day.

What if God in his perfect wisdom creates doorways through suffering to bring people into authentic relationship?

Would this change your view of suffering?

It may be easier to recognize severe physical suffering. Perhaps you’ve had a family member who’s had a stroke and lost function of a section of their body? Or maybe you’ve seen the suffering that terminal cancer causes in a good friend?

“Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” (Unknown)

Walk through an entire day and you will come into contact with many types of suffering. In many cases suffering goes unnoticed unless you are connected in intimate relationship with a person. Also, suffering can have many layers and faces.

Loneliness, loss and depression are forms of suffering.
Losing hope is the worst kind of suffering.

Maybe it’s worth exploring suffering with spiritual eyes to see that when all the stuff we strive for in life is at the bottom of a trash heap, the only thing of lasting value is relationship. Suffering is everywhere! So, there are doorways everywhere to step through into relationship.  I encourage you to consider what your life would be like if you stepped through a doorway.  People have stepped into my suffering when I needed to be loved and supported.

Share your thoughts below!
Has someone stepped into your life when you were suffering?
Maybe you have stepped though the doorway into someone’s life?

Give your love, not your ‘Like’ – Anti-social MEdia

Give your love, not your ‘Like’ – Anti-social MEdia

I realize that in order to read this post, you must be on a computer or smartphone. I hope that when you have finished reading it, you will put away the device and look up. Is there anyone in the room with you? What are they doing right now?

Maybe you are by yourself right now. What is your best friend doing right now? How about your mom or dad?

Watch this video (it’s 5 minutes long and won’t be a waste of you time):

I don’t usually spend long hours per day on Facebook but, I do find myself mindlessly scrolling the News Feed several times a day. Particularly at night before going to bed. How do I so easily drift into this state of feeding on the news feed? Then, the question hit me;

Is ‘feeding on Facebook’ beneficial? (more…)

Finishing the Race: Pressing On

Finishing the Race: Pressing On

I wish I could have been in Boston on Monday. 36,000 people participated in the Boston Marathon. I got a sense that this was going to be a special race like no other.  I would have loved to be there.  But, like many of you, I caught glimpses on Social Media.  There are so many touching and amazing stories emerging from event. Whether its the stories of amputees returning to race in Boston or folks running in memory of their fallen loved ones or participants carrying exhausted strangers toward the finish; we learn something about who we are. It is an encouragement to see others finishing the race.

Having personally participated in several very mentally and physically grueling endurance races, I can only imagine what it felt like to cross that line. It must have been so bitter-sweet and joy-filled words can’t describe it.

We have a choice:
When an event or loss devastates our lives, we are left with a choice. Whether it is the loss of a spouse or job, health issues, or broken dreams… We have a choice. We can linger in the bondage of that dark time or we can press on and finish the race.

Redeeming the experience
The tough and dark times are rich with value that can be redeemed. Maybe not immediately, but at some point in the future. When the participants crossed the finish line on Monday in Boston, they redeemed something of transcendent value that cannot be measured. The word ‘priceless’ seems like a cheap description of it. As onlookers, we sense it and feel it as we see and hear the stories pouring out from the race.

Pressing on: Finishing the Race
We all experience trials in life. Most we cannot escape. We must endure it. Personally, I believe that pain and suffering have a purpose and have a much higher value than pleasure. If I can encourage you to do one thing. I encourage you to press on and finish the race. There will come a time when you will be able to redeem it and bring forth more good than you ever expected. Plant those roots good and deep. When the heat and trials come, you will endure. And when the quenching rains come you will burst forth with the good fruit of life that has transcendent value. There will be folks cheering you on as you finish your race. It is yours to run. Who knows, maybe you’ll have the privilege of carrying someone else toward the finish line with you.

Encouragement from the Bible:
“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isa 40:28-31)

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Gal 6:9)

Press on….

Prejudice distorts perception: Warren Buffett’s car

Prejudice distorts perception: Warren Buffett’s car

Warren Buffett's Car - Prejudgement, prejudice and perception

Warren Buffett’s Car

(This is a free-flow exploration born from the above statement)

Prejudice is a preconceived opinion or prejudgment that is NOT based on reason or actual experience. It is an unfavorable opinion formed without knowledge, thought or reason (wikipedia & dictionary.com)

Most of us think of prejudice in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, etc. It has become an emotionally charged word in our culture. Therefore, I’ll use the word ‘prejudgement’ for the sake of this discussion because this is the case for ALL people we interact with.

We must constantly be on our guard against prejudging people. If we’re honest, we understand that we prejudge people before we actually know them all the time. It is almost impossible to keep from doing this. With every introduction or handshake, I am making prejudgements. You are too.

The problem as I see it, is we’re making internal statements about the individual instead of asking internal questions.  In my mind, I am making presumptions about this person which amount to snap character judgements. Instead, I should be asking asking myself character questions.

Why is any of this important?
If I prejudge someone before I actually know anything about them, my perception of them will be distorted. This distortion will taint the relationship. This causes miscommunication, missed opportunities and prevents meaningful growth. Basically, the relationship is DOA (Dead on Arrival). It is dangerous to base our thinking about someone on a non-reality or an opinion preformed without any knowledge.

The Difference: Intuition and Prejudgment
I’ve learned a recurring lesson regarding prejudgement. The majority of the time when I’ve made a snap judgement before knowing someone, I later find out I was completely wrong. Have there been occasions when I’ve gotten a ‘bad feeling’ or sensed something ‘a bit off’ with someone? Absolutely. My gut (intuition) has protected me from many catastrophes in the past. However, intuition is not the same as a prejudgement. It is up to you and me to learn how to know the difference. It is a mind game we must master.

How do I prevent or minimize prejudgement?
Discipline: I understand my default is to make snap judgements. I must learn to turn my internal statements into internal questions about a person. To do this, I must constantly train my mind to recognize my folly and adjust it.

First impressions covered in grace:
Grace: I understand that extending grace is a better way to engage people I meet for the first time. People put a lot of weight in first impressions. But, if my dear friends prejudged me on their first impression of me, I’d have no friends. LOL! Leading with grace into an initial interaction with someone is beneficial and makes room for growth and is fertile soil for cultivating trust.

Think about how most people prejudged Jesus Christ during his time on earth. He was a poor, simple carpenter from an obscure little town called Nazareth. He did not have a big palace or chariots or teams of servants. Jesus surrounded himself with gnarly fisherman and others who we may consider ‘lowlifes’ today. Whether you are a Christian or not, you must admit that he is much more than poor, simple carpenter.

Most people we meet are much more than our prejudgement or prejudices dictate.

Look at Warren Buffett’s car again… Does it look like the kind of car a Billionaire would drive?