Reflections of September 11, 2002 from Ground Zero, NYC

Reflections of September 11, 2001 from Ground Zero, New York City

Today (November 11, 2005), my wife and I decided to journey to the WTC site. I was apprehensive about what I was about to experience.

Never in my life had I hated clear blue skies, but for a few moments today, I did.

Below are photos from my 2005 visit to World Trade Center site. Click to enlarge. My reflections follow the phots.

This is from my Myspace blog from Nov 12, 2005 upon my visit to NYC and Ground Zero. I decided to dig it out, reflect and repost. 

How some things change and yet some things are meant to linger…

[November 12, 2005] We’re currently in NYC. I played a DJ gig last night at Spirit (formerly Twilo).

This morning my wife and I headed down to WTC Ground Zero. I have not been to New York City since prior to September 11, 2001. Of course, like many of you, those events had a profound effect on my life. For some reason I’ve been fighting with demons in my mind from that day for a number of years.  I decided that I would lay them to rest with this visit to NYC. My trip to the Ground Zero site was more important that the gig that brought me here.

Since I found out that I would be coming to New York, I wondered how I would feel when I got down to the site. I’ve known since 9/11 that I would someday visit the place where the attacks occurred.

I have many fond memories of my visits to NYC prior to September 11, 2001.  My trips in the past have always included a visit to the World Trade Canter (WTC) and sometimes staying at the WTC Marriott. One of my best friends worked at Cantor-Fitzgerald on the 105th floor. I’ve visited him there and went to dinner at Windows On The World restaurant (107th floor) . I’ve looked out of his office window and seen helicopters hovering directly across from me. I’ve seen clear endless blue skies so brilliant that your eyes water. I’ve looked down from the 105th floor to the street below as a parade passed by. Have you ever seen a parade from above? It was amazing. Words unable to fully describe the image.

It was a great experience to share a typical Friday work day with my friend – and make some new friends along the way.  Needless to say, some of the people I met at Cantor that day are gone from this earth. I remember their faces like I remember the New York City skyline.

Fortunately, my good friend at Cantor started working else where a month prior to the attacks.

When we flew to NYC, I saw the hole in the night sky where the buildings once stood.

Today (November 11, 2005), my wife and I decided to journey to the WTC site. I was apprehensive about what I was about to experience. The streets we as I always remembered them in my many visits to NYC. I’ve been there so many times I sort of know my way around. It’s strange that this boy from Texas feels completely comfortable in NYC – just walking the streets. But this time was different. Today, I was on a pilgrimage. So, we walked slowly and silently as the city was going about its business. The deeper into lower Manhattan we walked and the closer to the WTC site we got, the quieter and slower things seemed to become.

As we turned the corner and I saw empty sky where my favorite land marks once stood. It took my breath away. It was like diving into cold water. The skies were clear and blue much like the day that I visited my friend there so many years before.  To say that it was surreal is an understatement – it was like a dream.

I felt deja vu…. but I HAD been there before. The loud streets of the city were silent as hundreds of people moved in slow motion around at the site. I tried to focus on something in the sky that had been there before. It was no longer there. I was like my memory was trying to replace the images in my mind…  I closed my eyes and could see the two giants. I wanted the giants to be there when I opened them again. I wanted everything to be the same as it was before…  I opened my eyes and I was greeted with blues skies.

Never in my life had I hated clear blue skies, but for a few moments today, I did.  I hated what those blue skies meant in that place. My two giant friends were gone.  Out of the blue skies came the attacks that toppled them and cause sane, able-bodied people to jump to their death. As I walked closer to the pit, I could feel that I was in a special place, a place were a terrible thing happen – a terrible thing that had left a wound on my soul. It still hurt every time I remember that day.

I will never forget the chill in the wind today. I’ll never forget what it felt like or what it smelled like. I walked up to the fence to see what was not there. It was strange… I stood at the fence a peered in. I was in disbelief. I was afraid and confused.  I was afraid that I was going to breakdown in front of everyone. God gave me strength as tears filled my eyes…  I had my sunglasses on, so I would be ok.  No one would know my tears. Suddenly, I felt like I was the only one there.  I was alone.  Just me and that place. It was quiet and still as the sun warmed my face in the chilled air.

I closed my eyes and saw the buildings crumbling in my mind. It was real.  I opened them and nothing. All those poor people… gone.

I was battling with my demons from September 11, 2001 in the spot where it happened. I picked the place for the fight. I had already decided that I would win. I would win it on the very spot where it began 4 years prior. I had prepared for this day. I knew it would come. I mumbled a little prayer to myself.

A cold wind hit me in the face and I was awakened, as if from a dream. I returned to reality. It was as if God had allowed me to have a moment for just me in a busy city full of people. For me to battle… To finish the fight and release the grief and anger to him. And it was a good fight. I could only imagine what my wife would be going through if we had a different life and we happened to live in New York and I worked at WTC… and went to work that day not to return. I felt so thankful when she walked over and put her hand in mine…

My life changed today. My reality changed. As we walked around the site, I noticed men working…  machinery moving earth. I noticed grass and wildflowers growing in the excavated area – life!  Life was moving. There was life in this place.  It was wonderful to see. My sadness turned to joy. I knew all was good in the hands of a good God.

I looked into the blue sky and I was thankful for its blueness.  I will never curse a blue sky again.

Sacred moments in a special place… Returning to Texas tomorrow.

-Lance

(Orignally Posted Nov 12, 2005)

VIDEO: The 9/11 Survivor Tree – The last living rescue from 9/11—a charred and battered pear tree—has been recovering at a Bronx nursery. Now, it’s finally returning home.

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Did You Know You Were Made For This Time and Place?

Did You Know You Were Made For This Time and Place?

The Gospel isn’t a formula you apply to your life; it’s the Story you’re meant to inhabit.

Do you know your role in the story of which you inhabit?

We live in an extraordinary moment in history.

Do you know your role in this world?

What are your responsibilities and opportunities in this cultural moment?

Where do I start in the square inch God has placed me?

If you are redeemed in Christ, then you inhabit the greatest story ever told. The Gospel is not limited to the way of salvation. It is bigger than that. Yes, your faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life is important. But, the Gospel I believe is not the Gospel of Lance. It’s not about me. Neither is the Gospel about you. Our salvation is not the end game nor is it the over-arching theme of the Bible. Jesus Christ proclaimed the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom.’

Michael Craven said, “The Gospel is so much larger than the personal plan for salvation. The Gospel of the Kingdom is the in-breaking rule and reign of Jesus Christ as King over all creation – redeeming and restoring all things. Through Him, the Kingdom of God has come into this world. Jesus has completed the atonement (payment) for our sin on the cross. By his resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God the Father, He is presently ruling and reigning over creation. Christ is reinstating his righteousness on the earth.”

J.I. Packer said, “The Gospel starts by teaching us that we, as creatures, are absolutely dependent on God, and that he, as Creator, has an absolute claim on us… Only when we have learned this can we see what sin is and understand the salvation from sin.”

The bad news is that our modern American gospel is man-centered not a God-centered Gospel. A God-centered Gospel is indeed Good News. There are two competing gospels, the gospel of the world vs the Gospel of the Kingdom. The former leads to death and destruction the latter leads to eternal life and human flourishing.

“Calling is at the heart of scripture.” – Os Guiness

God calls us, moreover, God invites us to inhabit His story. “When Christians see everything as calling from the Lord, we realize the dynamism of our faith” (Os Guiness). As we respond and enter into the overarching story of all of history, we go about setting things right in the world. In other words, we bring order to the disorder we find in our time and place.

“The Gospel isn’t a formula you apply to your life; it’s the Story you’re meant to inhabit.” – The Colson Center

A Unifying Vision:
As Christians, we must cultivate a unifying vision of the Lordship of Christ over the domain of our individual and collective lives as the local church. We shall live lives that are holy and pleasing to the Lord as we exercise dominion over that which God has placed in our care. The hallmarks of Christian maturity are; holy living, the ability to articulate a Christian vision of total reality, and a zeal to bring ALL things under the Lordship of Christ as co-reagents of His Kingdom – redeeming and restoring that which is lost and dying in the place and time in which we live.

We are witnesses to the ‘in-breaking’ rule and reign of Jesus Christ into history as we redeem and restore that which God has placed in our care. We beseech the lost world to be “reconciled to God” in Christ Jesus as we take our place in His great story.

As Christians, we are transformed through Christ. We are commanded to share the Gospel of the Kingdom with a lost world. We are also given another command called the Cultural Mandate or Dominion Mandate. “The cultural mandate is the command to exercise dominion over the earth, subdue it, and develop its latent potential (Gen. 1:26-28; cf. Gen. 2:15).” (9Marks) We create good, true and beautiful culture that transforms the world and the story we inhabit.

The late Chuck Colson said,Transformed lives transform lives – transformed lives transform culture.

We live in an extraordinary moment in history. We have an extraordinary God. We inhabit an extraordinary story. You Were Made For This Time and Place.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Author’s note: The piece I’ve written above are deeper reflections of my experience and what I’ve learned through the Colson Fellows program over the last two years. “Gain wisdom, live faithfully and act courageously.”

 

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The Music in My Head – DJing, Raves and Redemptive Vision

The Music in My Head - DJing, Raves and Redemptive Vision

As I sit in my home office, I am surrounded by music that connects with the old raver, the old man – the DJ. I see it all through new redeemed eyes and a new heart.

Do you ever reflect on the past and think to yourself, “I have lived many lives”? That happens to me quite often.

We moved into a new house a few months ago. Every time we move, I pack about 500-600 vinyl records in boxes for the journey to our new home. The other day I was rearranging my new home office and reorganizing my record collection. At the height of my collection, I had over 5000 records. Over the years I sold off some and gave away the rest. I’ve kept my favorites – the ones I’ve esteemed as “classics.” Some are one-of-a-kind acetates – which are single cut records that were once used to test new songs in live environments. Some in my collection are ‘test-pressings’ which are limited to 25-100 copies.  The rest of my collection are just records I love.

How did I end up with so much vinyl? Well, that is a long story. I don’t have time to share the journey in its entirety at this time – it would require a book. I will share that many moons ago, in a galaxy far far away, I was a DJ. Now, some of you remember “Lance the DJ – the raver.” That may be your last and most prominent memory. Mind you, I may also remember YOU as the raver because of time and distance that is the last memory I have of you. Others may have more recent perceptions of me – a financial advisor or more recently (last 7 years), a pastor. I’m the same Lance but also a different Lance in a very real sense. Often times, I think to myself, “I have lived many lives.” Perhaps when you reflect on your life you feel the same way. We’re very much the same person we once were but at the same time we’re different. Life is so bizarre and yet strangely beautiful in this respect.

(Note: a “rave” is a massive all-night party centered around, friends, electronic music, dancing, drinking and drugs. “Ravers” are the folks that comprise the community centered around these events. At the time I considered myself a ‘sophisticated club-kid’ but let’s be honest – I was a raver.)

Every time I unpack and shelve my vinyl collection, I go on a journey. I don’t have a photographic memory but for some reason I can look at a record and remember where I played it and who was there. In fact, I have dozens of “white labels” that have no markings whatsoever. However, I can remove them from their sleeves and look at the grooves cut into the vinyl – the music in those tiny grooves pops into my mind. I may not be able to tell you the name of the track, but I can tell you what it sounds like and where I played it. Again, this is both bizarre and beautiful – that the mind can make such strong connections across the expanse of time and space.

Within every sleeve lies not just a slice of vinyl but a piece of music – a story – connecting to something beyond itself. There is a gift-nature to it all.

Think about it, 25 years ago, a producer had a vision – an idea for a song in his mind. In the audio studio – ex nihilo, he brings forth sound out of silence. He plays the music in his head and it manifests in reality. He creates, forms and shapes sounds into a song. The producer thinks to himself, “Hey, this is good – I’ll record it for the world to hear!” So, he records his beautiful song and sends the tape to the record press. From there an acetate is cut, a plater makes a mold of the acetate in silver with electro-plated nickel. Then the plate is placed on a stamper where the vinyl is pressed. The end result is music neatly embedded on a vinyl record – the finest analog playback in the world, I might add.

I was a professional DJ and producer in what seems like a different life long ago. Much of my time and money was invested in music. I would seek out those vinyl gems to play at raves and club events each week. I would lug of hundreds records in flight cases to various venues around Austin, Dallas, Orlando, Miami, Charlotte, Chicago, New York, Montreal, Chihuahua, Juarez and the rest of North America. I was welcomed into people’s homes and lives.

Perched in the DJ booth, with music thundering and people dancing – I would find the right track and gently place the record on the turntable. Then, I would place the needle (stylus) where the groove on the vinyl began – matching the beats of the previous song. At the precise time with the tempos in sync, I would add upward pressure on the volume control on the mixer. And like being a pilot of an aircraft, I would throttle the volume higher – keeping the beats in sync with the pitch control, monitoring the EQ and ensuring the two tracks being played at once stayed in key. Once mixed, we were “wheels up” and full volume! I’d check the dance floor below to see how that producer’s idea – the music that was once in his head was effecting the crowd. Then, I would repeat that process hundreds of times – taking people on a journey. If you take a moment to think about it, this entire process is so rich and powerful.

I have thousands of those visions lining my shelves of my office. Every record is linked to memories. I look at a record and I can hear the music in my head. I see the faces of the people. I see old friends and my mind is flooded with more and more memories. It as if I’m right there with them again – even if it is just for a moment. Some of those people are no longer on the earth. Like my good friend and DJ partner-in-crime, Jamon – gone. I preached at his funeral a few years ago. Other old faces I’ve lost track of. Time and distance separates us. Some of the songs on my shelves are attached to long time friendships that exist today. It is all so very prismatic and beautiful – kind of like a spinning disco ball. Even the darkness and brokenness of the DJ / raver lifestyle can be brought into the light and transformed
– redeemed.

Nearly 15 years have passed since I hung up my headphones. But even as I look at the records around me and all that has passed by in the river of life, I have come to realize the goodness and beauty of God working.

I see how he created us in his image with the ability to bring forth an idea – transforming music in someone’s head into music that somehow connects to the hearts of others. Then, stories, memories and lives are given a soundtrack. This is a thing of goodness, a reflection of the creative nature infused into the human creature by his Creator. Whether you are the producer, the DJ, the raver or the gal on a jog – we are listening to art that has in some way contributed to our lives. Sometimes silence is beautiful and good. Other times, we bring forth music and song into our little worlds. I mean, imagine a world without music? Given, not all music is good, beneficial or life-giving. Some music (if you want to call it music) brings out the worst in people. Perhaps we need to stop listening to that kind of music and play a new song.

As I sit in my home office, I am surrounded by music that connects with the old raver, the old man – the DJ. I see it all through new redeemed eyes and a new heart. I hear the music without even playing it. I close my eyes and see the gift-nature of it all – even as it is distorted in this broken world. I see the old friends and the times we shared. The fact that I had the privilege to entertain, meet and know so many incredible people in my many lives is deeply moving, particularly as I get older. As the memories fade as one song ends, I pray for those faces – many who I can’t even remember their names. I put that memory on the shelf…. and in true DJ fashion, I reach for the next memory dust it off and play the music in my head..

We can see the qualities of God’s beauty and goodness that He has lovingly infused into His image-bearers in the domain of human experience. This is the truth. Take it from a redeemed raver peering into the past with redeemed eyes – reaching for the next memory – just one more time before the night is over.

Author’s Note:
My wife recently shared with me a story about two college-age guys who shared the Gospel at a rave in Tennessee. Over 400 rave-goers placed their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior and most are being discipled today. That is an extraordinary story of faith and how God even pursues ravers at raves. It is interesting to think that even in my dark days as a DJ, He was working to redeem and restore one who would become a pastor – from death to life. When I hear about the guys in Tennessee, if brought back memories and inspired the story above.

For those interested in listening to some of the music I was playing back then. Below is a link to a compilation album I released for Proton Radio in 2004 entitled “The Sound” (named after my radio show on 93.3FM in Austin and ProtonRadio.com)

Lance Cashion ‘The Sound’ Disc 1

Lance Cashion ‘The Sound’ Disc 2

(Feel free to share your thoughts and comment below)

Register for my next live Zoom – Part 2 – Critical Theory and The Christian Vision

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Are ‘Woke’ Christians Breaking the 9th Commandment or Worse?

Are Woke Christians Breaking the 9th Commandment or Worse?

“The Ninth Commandment states, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The Bible is clear that lying is a sin. What does this have to do with “woke” Christians?

Note to reader: There are those who serve as ‘tone police’ who will accuse me of being ‘mean’ or ‘not nice’ because a subjective view of my tone. I’m being terse in regard to this topic because someone must point out that sheep (Christians) are abusing other sheep. What is worse, some shepherds (leaders / pastors) are abusing their own sheep.

My point is, this ‘woke’ nonsense is trash. It has no place in the church – it’s time to put a stop to it. Christ did not spill his blood and lay down his life for his bride (church) to stand in the mirror (social media) and slap herself in the face. We have enough sin in our own lives and in our culture without intentionally creating more. I’m seeing longstanding relationships between Christians be destroyed by this divisive foolishness. I will confront and attack the ideas – not the individual. I humbly submit the following discourse to you for consideration. Come let us reason together and preserve the bond of peace.

Register for live Zoominar – Tues Feb. 2nd 2021 at 7pm CT “Critical Race Theory & the Christian Vision

The one who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

1 John 2:10–11

Introduction:

Scriptural Foundation for Me and You

“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

There is a powerful movement within the church in America that has taken captive many well-meaning Christians. Under the banners of Social Justice, Racial Justice, Anti-racism and a handful of other names a certain enclave within Western Christianity have taken upon themselves the roles of accuser, judge, jury and punisher for all of Christendom. I’ve written about this extensively here…

To be ‘woke’ and to ‘stay woke’ is to be ‘with it’ or ‘in the know’ and ‘on the right side of history’ in regard to certain current social issues – particularly related to ethnicity and sexual identity. In other words, being ‘woke’ is to reside on the moral high-ground on a popular social issue. Having attained moral superiority through a kind of social enlightenment, the woke Christian’s ‘ministry’ (or service) to other Christians is to publicly castigate and berate their brothers and sisters – usually on social media. This is coupled with a heavy dose of virtue-signaling. Imagine the Roman Colosseum but online and to top it off, Christians are essentially persecuting other Christians.

The Social Justician’s Ministry of Wokeness

The goal of woke ministry is to pound other Christians into submission for the hidden sin of being ‘un-woke’ which is code for racist, homophobic, white supremacist, etc. When challenged, woke leaders tell their victims (brothers and sisters in Christ), that “this is a Gospel issue that only REAL Christians understand.” When someone questions, challenges or refuses to submit to woke demands, they are typically purged, given the mark of racist or white supremacist or some other label – then exiled to purgatory. Excommunication is accomplished through de-friending on social media or ‘canceling.’ Salvation is found in continuous public penitence, self-flagellation and virtue-signaling in order meet the approval of the woke crowd that includes non-Christians who hate Christianity (ironic).

Little covens of ethnic gnostics meet together and engage in woke worship marked by churlish preaching, muckraking, struggle sessions and voyeuristic prayer. Of course, in the context of in-person interactions their behavior is replaced with a kindly smile and the good ole ‘How can I pray for you?’ After all, no one wants to lose their paycheck over this or appear to be ‘mean’, right?

Worshipping the Zeitgeist

Let’s get serious for a moment. All of this wokeness is nothing more than bowing to the spirit of the age (idolatry). Moreover, through deception, coercion, complicity, bad theology, false teaching or a combination of all of the above, some Christians have unintentionally replaced the God of the Bible with the god of the age – the Gospel of the Kingdom with the gospel of culture. Sadly some Christians have completely given themselves over to the woke orthodoxy and completely decimated relationships and destroyed their public witness. Due to the prevalence of social media, this backsliding has become high drama for everyone to see – including the unbelieving world. This should saddens us.

Moral Arrogance, Selective Outrage and Creating an Offense

The moral arrogance of some “Christians” who see fit to label their un-woke brothers and sisters in Christ as racists or white-supremacists or otherwise is staggering. Furthermore, it creates moral confusion in an already confusing cultural moment. Public shaming and virtue-signaling have become a past time for some and doctrine for others. In addition, this movement is marked by selective outrage. Meaning, you must express public moral outrage (emotion) about certain social issues sanctioned by woke orthodoxy. This behavior has the effect of binding the conscience of other Christians.

All of this is rooted in moral arrogance and takes shape in the expression of moralism (not to be confused with morality). What should grieve the community of all Christ-followers is that woke Christians create an offense where one does NOT exist. Then they publicly accuse their brethren of this newly created offense of public sin that requires public repentance. If the accused questions or does not meet the expectations of the woke Christian mob, everything attaches to the contrived offense. In other words, everything you do or say reinforces the offense – guilt is piled on to guilt. As a result, you will be shamed, guilted, cancelled, slandered and eventually purged.

It’s reminiscent of the cliquey “cool kids” or the “in-crowd” in middle school where the “not-so-cool” kids were purged from the lunch table or not invited to the cool kid parties. This is happening within the Church in America but it’s way more destructive and harmful.

If you try to discuss or debate, woke Christians typically assume the position of moral high ground above the particulars of the issues involved. They speak in high-minded sweeping generalities followed by a barrage of ad hominem attacks (name-calling) but refuse to engage the abstract or particulars. And they are never wrong on the issue. It’s repackaged Critical Theory that takes the form of legalism. I digress…

I will not slander other believers. . . . There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy. Who am I to judge my neighbor?

James 4:11–12

[paraphrased]

Are Woke Christians Bearing False Witness or Worse?

Note: I am aware that I am a lowly sinner capable of great evil and I have broken God’s commands. So, I am not accusing others of committing sin that I have not committed my self. The posture of my heart is to look at this issue not from above or below others but on the level.

The Ninth Commandment states, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The Bible is clear that lying is a sin. The 9th Commandment expands on this and forbids lying about another image-bearer. What does this have to do with woke Christians?

Let me explain. If I label and/or accuse entire groups of people or individuals I don’t know as racists or white supremacists, I am accusing them of ethnic hatred (dubiously called racism). Jesus places hatred on equal ground as murder (Matthew 5:21-22, 1 John 3:15). According to God, by pronouncing sweeping judgements of ethnic hatred on the brethren, I am accusing them of MURDER.

If you don’t recognize this dangerously thin spiritual ice, you need to think again my friend.

The Sixth Commandment says, “You shall not murder.” The Bible is clear that murder is a sin. What does this have to do with woke Christians?

Let me explain. In accusing people of ethnic hatred, I am judging them to be murderers. If I accuse people of implicit ethnic hatred based on their God-given ethnicity (skin color) or some other superficial or immutable factor without actual evidence of sin as defined by the Bible, I am guilty of lying (bearing false witness) against another image-bearer. Lying about someone can be my expression of hatred toward them. Therefore, I am potentially guilty of murder because (again) Jesus places hatred and murder in the same category.

Furthermore, when a Christian uses a public forum to infer or accuse someone of sin (ethic hatred), that Christian is guilty of slander. The Bible provides a prescription for dealing with public sin (Matthew 18:15-17)… it does not include social media.

Additionally, to the extent Christians are talking behind the backs of other image-bearers and making accusations, they are guilty of gossip. Gossip destroys unity and the Church ought to have zero tolerance policy. The most insidious example I’ve seen is what I call “gossip prayer.” This is where one Christian targets another Christian within the context of group prayer in order to slander them behind their backs. In doing this, the gossiper is dragging the rest of the group into sin by disguising his/her intersession as an address to the Heavenly Father. In a real spiritual sense, the gossiper is bringing a falsehood and slander of a spiritual sibling into the heavenly realms in the name of Jesus. Lest we forget God is Holy and dangerous – it says a lot about a lot about one’s condition if he/she believes God overlook a slanderous prayer. The Bible warns against making weaker believers stumble into sin AND throwing in our lot with those who would entice us to waylay someone else (Mark 9:42, Proverbs 1:10-18)

Finally, Jesus states that the Greatest Commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38). Biblically speaking, there is NO WAY a Christian can claim to keep and follow the Greatest Commandment while breaking the 9th and 6th Commandments.

“Woke Christianity” is a religion unto itself – rooted in pride and moral arrogance. It’s completely antithetical to Biblical faith and the Gospel of the Kingdom. It draws unknowing or weak Christians into a man-centered ‘reconciliation’ and false redemptive vision (social justice).

In conclusion, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This should be a ‘shot across the bow’ of our pride – a warning to be seriously heeded.

“He (Jesus) knew that a bundle of inflamed and virulent pride might as easily be garbed in rags and tatter as in ermine robes, and that haughtiness may as often be seen in a thatched cottage as in a turreted castle… It is possible for the poor to be proud of his poverty, for the devout to be proud of his piety, for the prayerful to be proud of his supplications, for the idolater to be proud of his obeisance, for the fasting to be proud of his fasts, for the donor to be proud of his gifts, the penitent to be proud of his penitence, for the lowly to be proud of his lowliness.

“The devil did grin, for his darling sin. Is the pride that apes humanity.”” (Coleridge)
FW. Boreham (The Heavenly Octaves)

“There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel that can succeed against the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:30)

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:5)

“And a second (commandment) is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

(Comment and share your thoughts below)

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Untended fires

Untended Fires

… soon die out and become a pile of ashes.

Have you ever sat by a campfire on a cold winter night?

I’ve always enjoyed a good campfire, particularly on cold nights. I love the warmth, watching the flames release smoke like plumes of silk into the air. Fires bring warmth, light and stir something deep within my soul. There is a connection to our past. Before the smartphone, electricity and stove, there was the campfire. Man has been staring into flames for thousands of years – a campfire in some ways embodies a kind of essence of primordial humanity.

Every campfire eventually dies out if left untended and without fuel. On a cold night as the flames have ceased and embers are fading, darkness and cold encroach the once warm space. The faces of those sitting around the fire grow dark as the light fades and the chill in the air creeps through your neck and back as cold advances on the area once claimed by warmth and light. At this point, you have a choice… Let the fire die out or tend it to bring it back to full flame.

It takes discipline to leave the tent in the cold of winter to stoke the fire. But, the fire is what sustains our warmth and comfort. Tend it, stir it and care for it. A fire is either growing or dying out. At no moment does it remain static.

You and I can learn a lot from a campfire.

Because of the gift nature of creation, even a campfire has meaning and significance beyond itself. In other words, fire has an essence infused into its existence that is much fuller than its utility. I think thats why most people find enjoyment, wonder and contemplation beyond the light and warmth of a fire.

My good friend Dr. Doug Cecil once said in a seminary class, “Untended fires soon die out and become a pile of ashes.” Think about that statement for a moment. If you’ve been around a fire, you know its absolutely true. Fires die out without tending and fuel. To sustain a warm fire, it takes commitment and time. The flames must be stoked and renewed with fuel.

Now let’s apply this ‘untended fires’ idea to our relationship with God and others because I believe we can learn deeper truths about reality and relationships from a simple campfire. When our relationship with God is neglected, that relationship grows cold. The same goes for our relationships with others.

I have old friends I have not spoken with in 20 years. I don’t know where they are or how their lives have turned out. Why? Because with the passage of time the relationship has grown distant and cold due to a lack of attention and tending. Are these relationships a dead pile of ashes? Perhaps. But perhaps not. The only way to find out is to reach out to that old friend and see if there is a hidden ember beneath the ashes. Then, I can fuel that ember and possibly bring the fire back. Given, there are some fires that must be allowed to die out and become a pile of ashes. Those are unhealthy relationships. However, for the most part a good stoking and tending of an old friendship can bring light and warmth into our lives.

From a Christian perspective, I believe the primary fire we must never allow to die out is our relationship with God. By stoking and fueling my communion with my God and creator, I am able to stir a kind of eternal flame in the lives of others (potentially). For my fellow Christians, it will be the flames of fellowship, encouragement, exhortation, challenge, comfort, joy, rest, peace, love and following Christ. For those who do not know the love of God in Christ Jesus, it will be the flames that shed light on sin, awareness of darkness, cold and judgement but also the inviting warmth of God’s goodness, grace, forgiveness, rest, love and peace. Notice how the fire and warmth for both end up pointing to a loving relationship with God.

What fires need to be tended in your life?

Want to know God better?
Spend time with Him in His word – the Bible. By reading and meditating on scripture, you are renewing your mind and stoking the fire of your love and knowledge of Him. The more time you commit to fueling your relationship with the God who loves you and saved you from sin the more you will experience Him as a growing reality in your daily life. The result will be the deep enjoyment of rest, joy, love and peace regardless of how cold and dark the circumstances of life become.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

“I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)

Want to see God transform the lives of other people and the world?
Pray and intercede for others. Reading and meditating on God’s word reside also with prayer. If reading and meditation are the fuel, prayer is the oxygen required to bring the flames alive. Like warmth radiated by a fire, the result of prayer is the transformation in the world around you – particularly those standing close to your fire. Therefore, we tend fires through prayer.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,” (1 Timothy 2:1)

Want to experience the fullness of Christ?
Serve Him by serving others and sharing your hope in Him. Nothing ignites or reignites a fire in ourselves and others like hope. One way to share the hope you have is through serving others. Meeting the needs of others and protecting the vulnerable take you further into the Kingdom of God and draw you closer to His heart. There is also a blessing in the action of ‘doing ministry’ (John 13:17). Serving others is where what we believe intersects with our will to act. The toil can be tiresome even painful at times but you will experience a fullness and deep joy through serving and sharing. So, we can tend fires through serving and sharing.

“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:17)

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:25)

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

My hope and prayer is that you and I will attend to our relationships with God, each other and folks around us. May we remember that untended fires soon die out and become a pile of ashes. You’ll never look at a campfire quite the same again. Perhaps, you’ll see your relationship with God and others in a different light as well.

(Comment and share your thoughts below)

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*This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of my employer or my church. The opinions of expressed by guest authors and commenters do not necessarily represent my opinions.

Facebook: All good things come to an end

All good things come to an end.

All good things decay unless they are reclaimed and restored. That’s not going to happen with Facebook. They are too far gone.

I want you as a part of my life without Facebook mediating or manipulating our relationship.

I opened a Facebook account in January of 2007. It was a fun way to connect with family and friends all over the world. Nearly fourteen years later, the experience is completely different – it’s almost entirely negative.

I login to see what is happening and log out asking myself why I put myself through the Facebook psychological meat grinder.

A few years ago, Facebook decided to race to the bottom of the human brainstem and manipulate people. I will not be manipulated. AND I don’t like seeing my friends manipulated.

Admittedly, daily dopamine hits are a difficult addiction to break. But, so were drugs and alcohol.

Dumpster fires are hard NOT to watch – particularly when people are throwing huge amounts of fuel on them.

Facebook has turned into a relational dumpster fire.  People have said things on Facebook that ended friendships that began before Facebook crossed Mark Zuckerberg’s mind. Some of those friendships were formed before Zuckerberg was born and were ended on his platform. He (and others) decided to run a social experiment and make some loot. I’ll champion anyone’s right to build a business and create legitimate profits providing goods and services. The problem is the once ‘good Facebook’ transformed into a cruel Mr. Hyde… or maybe more like Nurse Ratched.

There is something fundamentally flawed with the Facebook business model. As I’ve written about Google, the two tech titans share many of the same tactics and strategies. Neither platform is friendly or pro-user. They both manipulate and use people for profit and power.

While I will not blame societal breakdowns totally on the world’s largest social media platform, I will say Facebook has contributed to the problem. What is most troubling is they profit off the dumpster fire not caring that the people involved are image-bearers and have value (regardless of their views).

So, I’ve decided to step away from Facebook. I don’t have any plans to move to another platform. The biggest challenge will be staying connected with many friends and a acquaintances from the platform.

I’m going to allow a few days to pass before stepping away to connect with anyone who wants to stay connected off the platform.

I’m also going back to good old fashioned face-to-face meetings, phone calls and a Zoom meeting here and there. I’ll be focusing on my work, a couple big projects and writing. Feel free to visit and connect.

As I said at the outset, I want you to be a part of my life without Facebook mediating or manipulating our relationship.

Perhaps our paths will cross again. You can contact me here.

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